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Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
RECITAL REVIEW
Music at Oakmont / Thursday, March 9, 2017
Einav Yarden, piano

Pianist Einav Yarden

NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 9, 2017

Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont.

The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connoisseurs nor for popular taste, but was full of rarely-played music from always-played composers. Somehow Beethoven’s magisterial A-Flat Major Sonata managed to get into the mix.

Ms. Yarden has been specializing lately in Haydn’s middle period sonatas, and it was refreshing to hear a work for the first time, the F Major No. 44. She played it very well, using a lot of damper pedal at the end of phrases and keeping the drama small-scaled but effective. The pianist underscored the stylistic diversity and innovation of the opening moderato and paid careful attention to harmonic nuances, of which there are many in this work that doesn’t have the usual level of the composer’s playfulness. The adagio was lovely, the tempo just right.

Schumann’s last set of three Fantasiestücke, Op. 111, closed the first half. Here again the artist played the swirling phrases and sweep of the C Minor in a beguiling tempo, and made the lovely and fragmentary A Flat (No. 2) sound a little like Brahms. But only a little, as Schumann’s harmonies prevailed, as they did in the march like C Major finale that had echoes of the great march from the Op. 17 Fantasy in the same key. Ms. Yarden played the simple theme and quick descending motifs flawlessly, which made the middle section sound all the more graceful.

Following intermission the composer’s Waldszenen, Op. 82, received a performance that stressed the connective tissue between the nine sections: tonal balances, asymmetrical phrasings and many staccato chords and even phrases. There seems to be no forte chords in this piece from 1849, and the entire recital eschewed loud outbursts of sound. Highlights of the playing included the contrapuntal lines in “Solitary Flowers,” poetic and almost flighty playing in the B Flat “Friendly Landscape”, and the extended questioning and a long and delicate decrescendo at the conclusion of “The Prophet Bird.”

Many of the themes in Forest Scenes harken to Schumann lieder, especially the Op. 25 songs “Myrthen,” and Ms. Yarden captured these aural references with idiomatic phrasing and pellucid tone color.

Beethoven’s penultimate Op. 110 Sonata closed the program in a polished and never bass-heavy reading. This glorious Sonata from 1821 is deeply expressive in its three semi-distinct movements, and Ms. Yarden treated the opening moderato in a leisurely manner, amiable and always eloquent. She was never in a hurry

This approach characterized the figurations in the scherzo-like allegro molto and the lyric introduction to the noble fugue. Textures were clear and the cantabile was limpid. It was persuasive Beethoven playing, vivid and convincing. If there was any interpretative misstep it came at the end when the final five bars lacked the non legato punch down to the final a-flat note and the upward push to the last raw fortissimo chord. The musical ecstasy was just missed.

No encore was offered.

Four of Beethoven’s early and seldom-played Op. 33 Bagatelles opened the recital, and each was a gem. Mr. Yarden’s tempos were ideal, as was careful half-pedaling and in No. 2 spotlighting Beethoven’s sly humor. In the will-of-the-wisp No. 7 she played scales and quick repeated notes impeccably.