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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...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Redwood Arts Council / Saturday, April 14, 2018
Boris Andrionov, cello; Dimitri Illarionov, guitar

Dmitri Illarnionov and Boris Andrionov

VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018

Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers were mostly new to North Coast, and the program was mostly all arcane transcriptions. It was the final event in RAC’s 38th season.

Cellist Boris Andrionov has appeared at a previous RAC program in Occidental, with the virtuoso pianist Alexander Kobrin, and this evening joined guitarist Dmitri Illarionov for novel instrumental transcriptions. Transcriptions? Sure, and the selections were full of sonic variety, novel instrumental color and consummate virtuosity.

The duo played without score the entire evening and began with Bach’s C Minor Cello Suite, BWV 1011, using the two instruments solo in some of the six sections, or in a harmonious mix. The large church has a high ceiling and lots of carpeting and heavy oak pews, and thus minimal reverberation. But acoustics were excellent, as the sound is direct and clear. It was a fetching transcription highlighted by Mr. Andrionov’s non-legato arpeggios in the allemande. It was quickly clear that both player’s virtuosity and compositional wizardry would dominate the evening. These are sprightly dance movements with Mr. Illiaronov’s solo courante playing beguiling. Tempos were just right, judicious in the sarabande and slow and yearning in the two-parte gavotte.

Mr. Illarionov altered the program, playing Albéniz’ Granada instead of the announced Tarrega Carnaval of Venice Variations on a Paganini theme, but the substitution was welcome and splendidly performed. Guitar praise can go no higher. His two-finger legato supporting the single note theme was mesmerizing.

Falla’s Suite Popular Española was originally written for soprano and voice, and was transcribed by violinist Paul Kochanski for strings, and finally by the evening’s guitarist. There is much high register cello playing, and sounds of a Zarzuela dance and even a mimic of a soprano voice. Spanish rhythms abound and vibrato, mostly absent in the Bach, returned. A sensual work brilliantly performed.

Picking out highlights in a concert full of them is risky, but I might nominate the four Russian Romances that began the second half. Glinka and Boris Sheremetev were the only familiar composers, and the music was at turns melancholic in the “I Met You” (a captivating long decrescendo and crescendo by Mr. Andrionov), and a suave “salonstücke” dance in “The Gate” with cutesy pauses. Gaiety and sadness were constantly juxtaposed.

Four Moldavian Folk songs in transcription followed. The rhythms and “dervish” effects produced by both instruments were irresistible. The tarantella dance seemed to be played on top of the strings, and full of strange and rich color.

Two solos came next, Mr. Illarionov playing a non-Piazzolla “Tango en Skaï” (Roland Dyens) and Mr. Andrionov answered with an under six-minute scintillating performance of Giovanni Sollima’s cello showpiece “Lamentatio.” It was exciting and used instrument body slapping, long delicious slides, rapid bow and at one moment even the lament sound of the cellist’s own voice.

One might think that the audience of 150 would tire of many short works (23 at this time) and so much associated virtuosity, but that wasn’t the case, and two contrasting Piazzolla works concluded the recital: the slow and lovely “Tanti Anni Prima” and the pungent “La Muerte del Angel.” Both received the same sovereign instrumental command that characterized this sensational concert of unique string transcriptions.