Home  Reviews  Articles  Calendar  Presenters  Add Event     
Choral and Vocal
NOBLE BRAHMS REQUIEM PERFORMANCE CLOSES SONOMA BACH'S SEASON
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 01, 2019
Sonoma Bach, conducted by Robert Worth, presented a truly grand finale to their 2018-19 "Light Out of Darkness" season in two sold out Schroeder Hall performances June 1 and 2. The program "A Human Requiem" was received rapturously with a well-deserved standing ovation for the main work, Brahms' ...
Chamber
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six song...
Symphony
ALEXANDER TORADZE DELIVERS A LESSON IN SERENITY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 05, 2019
An entire concerto movement consisting of serene piano melodies over a soothing backdrop is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when seeing Shostakovich’s name on an orchestra program, but that’s exactly what pianist Alexander Toradze delivered--twice--at Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony c...
Symphony
MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON CLOSES WITH AUTUMNAL ELGAR AND THEATRICAL BEETHOVEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Mozart’s enchanting Overture to his opera The Magic Flute, a miniature tapestry of gems from the 1791 work, opened the Marin Symphony’s final concert of the 2018-2019 season. Under conductor Alasdair Neale, the playing of the sprightly seven-minute piece by a reduced-size classical ensemble sparkled...
Recital
SHAHAM-EGUCHI DUO'S EXCITING MUSICAL GENEROSITY IN WEILL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, April 26, 2019
Violinist Gil Shaham may be the most modest virtuoso on the concert stage today, and it is the great music he most wishes to put forward, never himself. Generosity, a quality he is known for, was abundantly clear in Weill Hall April 26 when he performed, with pianist Akira Eguchi, a generous program...
Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
RECITAL REVIEW
Green Music Center / Friday, April 26, 2019
Gil Shaham, violin; Akira Eguchi, piano

Gil Shaham and Akira Eguchi April 26 in Weill Hall (Green Music Center Photo)

SHAHAM-EGUCHI DUO'S EXCITING MUSICAL GENEROSITY IN WEILL

by Abby Wasserman
Friday, April 26, 2019

Violinist Gil Shaham may be the most modest virtuoso on the concert stage today, and it is the great music he most wishes to put forward, never himself. Generosity, a quality he is known for, was abundantly clear in Weill Hall April 26 when he performed, with pianist Akira Eguchi, a generous program spanning four centuries of music.

The duo opened the program with Kreisler’s exhilarating Praeludium and Allegro. The piece, which Kreisler pretended for years was by the Baroque composer Gaetano Pugnani, opens with breathtaking leaps in shifting intervals of four, five, six, eight and 10 notes in the soprano register while the piano line reminds us of the presence of gravity with slow block chords. Mr. Shaham performed with a breadth of feeling that this tour-de-force requires.

Scott Wheeler’s delightful The Singing Turk: Sonata No 2, plays daredevil tricks of its own and merits future performances. Wheeler was inspired by Larry Wolff’s 2016 book The Singing Turk, about the role of Turkish characters in 100 European operas written between the 1680 and 1820 during the Ottoman Empire. Drawing lightly from Handel’s Tamerlane; Gilbert’s The Three Sultanas; and Rossini’s The Turk in Italy, the three movements create musical conversations of Wheeler’s own. The first, “Sů la sponda,” evoked two strangers walking along a shore involved in their own thoughts. There were spurts of notes and violin pizzicato, with shimmering pianism from Mr. Eguchi, bearing snatches of melodic thoughts coalescing eventually into a duet. Movement two, “O vous, que Mars rend invincible,” was somber and delicate, and the third movement, “In Italia,” featured themes in the piano part with a sparkling pulse while the violin part dazzled with a perpetual motion speed.

Mr. Shaham’s sound is light, pure, and mutable. With his magical bow he achieves unusual softness in high registers. His pianissimo can whisper, then grow to an amber mezzo forte or rough fortissimo in a nanosecond. He demonstrated all of this in Israeli composer Avner Dorman’s Nigunim, a thickly textured stew of Jewish music from many cultures and many time periods. The work was commissioned in 2011 by Mr. Shaham and his sister, pianist Orli Shaham, and premiered by the siblings in New York that same year. Within it are the textures and emotions of Jewish music in North Africa and the Middle East, with some non-Jewish musical traditions mixed in.

There are four movements and the first, adagio religioso, begins almost noiselessly. Mr. Shaham’s bowing was eerily quiet, as though heard from a far distance. The piano sounded a theme, inviting the violin to come closer, as it did before again evaporating into the ether. The second movement, scherzo, incorporates Georgian folk rhythms and Turkish/Middle Eastern drone sounds. Its vivid melodies are drawn from Ashkenazi music. In the third (adagio) movement, the piano part evokes water dripping onto a rock or ice melting from a roof, and culminates with a prayer-like melody. The ecstatic presto fourth movement blends Jewish music of Eastern European with Macedonian folk dances. It was a rousing performance by both artists of a complex work, leaving an indelible impression of a rich musical heritage and its cross-cultural influences.

After intermission Mr. Shaham returned to play Bach’s E Major Partita No. 3 (BWV 1006), and he chose a brisk tempo, faster than it is often played, yet it was not really rushed. He employed expressive vibrato and rubato to define the borders of each of the six movements (he played the two Minuets without separation). Performed without a score, unlike the rest of the program that was with a score on tablet, this was Mr. Shaham’s most intimate conception. At times he turned in profile, moving along the apron of the stage as though alone in his studio, then turning and smiling almost shyly at the audience as though saying, Yes, we are here together experiencing the incomparable beauty of Bach’s music. The Preludio first movement, with its gorgeous chromatics, was a standout of the evening. Mr. Shaham plays expressively with his entire body, his face seemingly reflecting how the music affects him.

Franck’s Sonata in A Major, written for his friend and fellow Belgian Eugčne Ysa˙e on the occasion of Ysa˙e’s wedding in 1886, was the evening’s final selection. Franck was a pianist, and Mr. Eguchi’s virtuosity shone in this performance. He had consummate discipline in maintaining a balance with the violin, and though he played strongly and with nuanced inner voices, he could have brought out the gorgeous piano part in the second movement more without overwhelming the violin part. It’s nearly as much a sonata for piano as it is a sonata for violin. The third movement recitativo-fantasia: ben moderato was a performance standout, sensitive and uplifting in the way that only lilting melancholy can attain. As though bookending the Kreisler work, Mr. Shaham’s violin sound floated from note to note in lovely intervals during this movement, like a spider spinning silk.

A standing ovation arose from 600 in the hall, and three curtain calls later, the duo took the stage a last time to play an encore of Bolcom’s elegant Graceful Ghost Rag, a perfectly laidback, delicately rhythmic end to a soul-satisfying musical evening.