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Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
Symphony
PEACE AND LOVE FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 04, 2018
Before the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 4 performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” Symphony CEO Alan Silow took a moment to acknowledge the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack and to observe that music offers a more peaceful and loving view of the world. Mr. ...
Chamber
ATOS TRIO IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 04, 2018
When the ATOS Piano Trio planned their all-Russian touring program at their Berlin home base, it had a strong elegiac, even tragic theme that surely resonated with their Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience Nov. 4 in Mill Valley. Comprised of Annette von Hehn, violin; Thomas Hoppe, piano; and...
Chamber
ATOS TRIO IN OCCIDENTAL CHAMBER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 03, 2018
When the Berlin-based ATOS Piano Trio entered the cramped Occidental Performing Arts stage Nov. 3, the audience of 100 anticipated familiar works in the announced all-Russian program. What they got was a selection of rarely-plays trios, with a gamut of emotions. Then one-movement Rachmaninoff G Mi...
Symphony
MIGHTY SHOSTAKOVICH 10TH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Just two works were on the opening program of the Marin Symphony’s 67th season Oct. 28, Tchaikovsky’s iconic D Major Violin Concerto, and Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony. Before a full house in the Marin Center Auditorium conductor Alasdair Neale set a judicious opening tempo in the brief orchestra i...
Symphony
VIVALDI FOR ALL SEASONS IN WEILL BAROQUE CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, October 27, 2018
The Venice Baroque Orchestra, a dozen superb musicians that include strings, harpsichord and recorder, played an uplifting concert Oct. 27 of mostly Vivaldi sinfonias and concertos. The Weill Hall audience of 600 had rapt attention throughout, and the playing was of the highest musical level. This r...
RECITAL REVIEW
Redwood Arts Council / Sunday, September 09, 2018
Sonja Myklebust, cello; Abbie Gabrielson, piano

A. Gabrielson and S. Myklebust Acknowledge Applause Sept. 9 in Occidental (J. McNeill photo)

DUO WEST OPENS OCCIDENTAL CONCERT SEASON

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 09, 2018

Before a full house at the Occidental Performing Arts Center Sept. 9 the cello-piano Duo West, playing from score throughout, presented a recital that on paper looked stimulating and thoughtful.

Beginning with MacDowell’s To A Wild Rose (from Woodland Sketches, Op. 51), the transcription by an unannounced arranger made little impact and probably was something novel to most of the audience. An odd choice not explained, but the Fauré D Minor Sonata (Op. 109) that followed was explained by the artists wielding two microphones with an extended interplay of commentary. The audience seemed to enjoy the descriptions of simplistic ideas of contrast in musical composition.

A work from late in the composer’s life, the Sonata’s charms and harmonies are complex and elusive, and cellist Sonja Myklebust’s round sound was well placed for the uneven phrases and unique rhythms. Pianist Abbie Gabrielson had good ensemble with Mr. Myklebust but her playing lacked individuality, and wasn’t helped by the hall’s sub-professional instrument with its wooden sonority and subdued treble.

The Sonata’s best playing was in the lovely andante’s long line and wandering melodies. Bow control here was good and the playing had rich tone in the many modulations. In the finale the duo chose a tempo that was too slow for bringing out the urgency of the music, especially at the end where the momentum in the cello part builds to a joyful climax. The composer’ sobriquet is “Old Arpeggio,” and Ms. Gabrielson added a few inner voices to the delightful swirl of arpeggiated chords.

Before intermission Arvo Pärt’s ten-minute Spiegel im Spiegel was an audience favorite, with Ms. Myklebust’s vibrato widening and the long minimalist exposed line captivating. Cello intonation was very good and the vital clarity of the long-held note changes was excellent. Mild dissonances in the piano part added to the piece’s mystery, with just one blurred cello entry point note and a fetching swelling of vibrato at the concluding fermata. The ovation was long and loud.

Shostakovich’s popular 2nd Sonata, Op.40, came after intermission, and echoed a performance four days earlier at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village Concert Series. In both performances the tempos were on the slow side, diluting the momentum and often sarcasm of the composer. But there is rhapsody in this music, and none of the banality of the cello’s theme in the First Cello Concerto. But Shostakovich does wonders with banal themes, and Ms. Myklebust projected themes alluringly with fine control in pianissimo passages. Pitch was sporadically off when coming down from a high-register quiet notes. There were references here to the composer’s Fourth Symphony, something I had not heard a cellist do before in the D Minor Sonata.

The exciting scherzo was played with an appropriate harshness and again a judicious tempo, leading into the long phrases of the largo. The Duo West gave it a gripping reading, underscoring the dissonances and strange transitions. Sadness trumped melancholy. A program highlight

The finale’s dramatic juxtaposition with the largo followed, with a much lighter instrumental texture, acerbic tunes and a cascade of piano notes.

Ginastera’s Pampeana (Op. 21, No. 2) closed the concert, a bravura work reminiscent of the composer’s Danzes Argentinas. The playing had the right amount of frantic rhythms and heavy textures, but also some leavening fantasy. Repeated phrases and raucous sforzandos from Ms. Gabrielson were telling additions to Ms. Myklebust’s double stops and admirable virtuosity.