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Chamber
EXTRAVAGANT FUSION OF STYLES AT CHRIS BOTTI BAND WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Jerry Dibble
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Trumpeter Chris Botti still performs in jazz venues including SF Jazz and The Blue Note, but now appears mostly in cavernous halls or on outdoor stages like the Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center. He brought his unique road show to the packed Weill Hall August 12 in a concert of effusive e...
Chamber
SCHUBERT "MIT SCHLAG" AT VOM FESTIVAL MORNING CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
The spirit of 19th century Vienna was present July 29 on the final day of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival in the second half of July glittered with innovative programming and the new, old sound of original instruments played by musicians who love music with historic instruments. ...
Chamber
PASSIONATE BRAHMS-SCHOENBERG MUSIC CLOSES VOM FESTIVAL SUMMER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
An extraordinary program of chamber music by Brahms and Schoenberg attracted a capacity crowd to the Valley of the Moon Music Festival’s final concert July 29th in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. It opened with a richly expressive reading by Festival Laureate violinist Rachell Wong and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur...
Chamber
PRAGUE AND VIENNA PALACE GEMS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 28, 2018
The remarkable Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented a concert called “Kinsky Palace” July 28 on their final Festival weekend in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. Two well-known treasures and one lesser gem were programmed. Starting the afternoon offerings were violinist Monica Huggett and Fest...
Chamber
INNOVATIVE CHAMBER WORKS IN HANNA CENTER CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, July 22, 2018
The Valley of the Moon Music Festival presented a July 22 concert featuring three giants: Haydn, Schubert and Schumann, composers who altered music of their time with creative innovations and artistic vision. In the fourth season the Festival’s theme this year is “Vienna in Transition”, and VOM Fes...
Chamber
VIENNA INSPIRATION FOR VOM FESTIVAL PROGRAM AT HANNA CENTER
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, July 21, 2018
A music-loving audience filled Sonoma’s Hanna Center Auditorium July 21 to begin a record weekend of three concerts, produced by the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival’s theme this summer is “Venice in Transition – From the Enlightenment to the Dawn of Modernism” Prior to Saturday’s m...
Chamber
VANHAL QUARTET AT VOM FESTIVAL DISCOVERY AT HANNA CENTER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 15, 2018
A near-capacity crowd of 220 filled the Sonoma Hanna Boys Center Auditorium July 15 for the opening concert of the fourth Valley of the Moon Music Festival. This Festival presents gems of the Classical and early Romantic periods performed on instruments of the composer’s era, which presents a few ch...
Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
RECITAL REVIEW
Green Music Center / Sunday, January 21, 2018
Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe, piano

Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe

ECLECTIC ANDERSON & ROE TRANSCRIPTIONS CAPTIVATE WEILL HALL AUDIENCE

by Nicki Bell
Sunday, January 21, 2018

From the first moment when Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe walked Jan. 21 on the Weill Hall stage and spoke to the audience about their two-piano program, it was clear that an afternoon of drama, humor, virtuosity, warmth, transcendence and excitement was in store.

This dynamic and mesmerizing duo create many of their own arrangements, and the first half consisted of three opera fantasies.  Their first was based on the finale of Act I of Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte” and enacted drama, romance, humor and scandal.  At one piano, their ten minute arrangement of pianistic Mozart was pure theater.  Mr. Anderson often glances at Ms. Roe at a seemingly cunning moment, and with her return glances the communication conveyed a sense of fun and even conspiracy.

The concert paraphrase from Ades’ opera “Powder Her Face” was taken from a real life story of the Duchess of Argyle who displayed lack of judgment, reckless behavior, narcissism and scandal, and who finally recognizes her errors and decadence. At the end a tango danced by an electrician and a maid over the Dutchess’ bed of shame, and the pianistic duo made the music glittering as though seen through shards of broken glass.  There were wonderful mixtures of colors, rhythms, melodies and dissonances, with soft chords building to loud and sometimes jazzy chords. The energy was palpable.

More drama and romance came with their “Carmen Fantasy” performance with themes taken from Bizet’s 1875 opera - jazzy, gypsy, sensuous, feverish, all full of virtuosity and speed.  Their two-piano performance was stunning.

Both the artists are warm and enlightening speakers with an audience, and at this performance the stories enhanced their instrumental skills. If the first half of the program was about scandal, drama and romance, the second was about transcendence, with musical statements addressing a human yearning. John Adams’ 16-minute “Hallelujah Junction” was built on repetition, the rhythm of the word “lujah” sounding over and over. At the end of the piece one could hear the whole word “hallelujah” at the climax.  This music was featured in the film “Call Me By Your Name”.  The repetition of the word led to a sense of timelessness and a hypnotic state similar to Catholic incantations or Buddhist chanting.  In three movements, each flowing into the next, the music became driving and intense.  

A very different mood was created with the duo’s arrangement of the Hallelujah Variations based on the cult
classic of Leonard Cohen’s song, the meaning of “Hallelujah” sifting through despair, yearning, ecstasy and praise  It was composed with the inspiration of Schubert and late Beethoven, a duet with eight variations. Through the Beethoven and Schubert mix the Cohen song was easily heard.

Paul McCartney’s song  “Let It Be” concluded the program.  Ms. Roe sang the song, with its gospel-inflected tone before they played their arrangement. It was dueling gospel pianists with an uplifting message and the full hall went crazy with stomping and yelling and clapping for more.

The encore was from Bernstein’s “West Side Story” and was played as a rollicking duet of “America” with the added percussion of hands slapping the piano and rapping knuckles against the instrument's wood fall board. Both artists hopped up to dance while trading places on stage. When the audience wouldn’t let them go, they played “What a Wonderful World”, a quiet work full of filigree scales that calmed the hall’s energy.