Author Archives: Dr. Gary Lemco

Roller-Coaster Strings: [email protected] Final Concert

The finely-honed [email protected] summer series concluded Saturday evening, August 5, with “National Flavors,” a highly diverse and musically challenging array of compositions whose scale and intensity, while varied, did not lack for stylistic panache and gorgeous showmanship. A thoroughly enthusiastic audience graced the Center for Performing Arts at Menlo-Atherton, eager to experience the culmination of the fifteenth anniversary season which had assiduously celebrated “The Glorious Violin.”

Violinist Danbi Um and cellist Nicholas Canellakis intiated the proceedings with Bohuslav Martinu’s 1927 Duo No. 1, a two-movement work that exploits the tonal range of the respective instruments, set in a modal, angular syntax enriched by multiple stopping on the strings. The first movement Praeludium: Andante moderato had Danbi and Canellakis share the melodic tissue and shuttle into improvisation until the calm atmosphere returned at movement’ end. The piece indulged Martinu’s Parisian sense of Jazz in striking syncopations that led to cellist Canellakis’ extended solo, which rather lit up our ears. The lyric appeal of this music had us in thrall when violinist Um joined in for a mad dash to the gratifying finale. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Chamber music, Strings

Deutsche Marks — German Virtuosity at Menlo

The Saturday July 22 Concert Program III at [email protected], “German Virtuosity,” transported the Italian violin tradition from Cremona northward, as deftly demonstrated in five elegantly performed works at the Menlo-Atherton’s Center for Performing Arts. Works by Rode, Beethoven, Spohr, David, and Mendelssohn graced a felicitous program that took Beethoven’s last sonata as a point of departure for the violin’s emergence into a burgeoning Romantic tradition in which the instrument would soar in expressive range and scale. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Chamber music, Classical Era, Romantic Era

Silver Macaroni: The Italian Baroque at Menlo

A grand concert on Saturday evening, July 15, mainly from the Italian Baroque era, 1627-1731, constituted the first of the 2017 [email protected] series from the Center for the Performing Arts at Menlo-Atherton, devoted to “The Glorious Violin.” A host of talented musicians collaborated in an unbroken series of musical consorts and chamber ensembles, each thoroughly blended by temperament and collaborative rapport. The series, which extends until August 5, includes the ambitious functions of these encounters, workshops, tutorials, and concert programs, each designed to unfold the history and artistic development of the violin as it originated in the Cremona tradition and founds its way to Bach and the international musical community. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Baroque, Violin

Tight-Lipped Optimism: Master Sinfonia Season Finale

Alex Zhou

A devoted few celebrated Mother’s Day with the music of Sibelius and Brahms, just two composers whom conductor David Ramanadoff chose to conclude the 2016-17 season of Master Sinfonia. The Sunday, May 14 concert at Los Altos Methodist Church featured gifted young violinist Alex Zhou in the Sibelius Violin Concerto, while the one work that occupied the second half, the Brahms D Major Symphony, added a bit of sunshine to an otherwise grudging, sometimes sullen exhibition of epic power. If the Sibelius Concerto expresses a Northern grandeur, the Brahms symphony mixes a pastoral sensibility with thunderheads, what the composer called “the black wings of my personal melancholy.” Read full story

Archived in these categories: Concerto, Orchestral, Romantic Era, Violin

Pianist Sofya Gulyak – Star Crossed Hands

With her one encore, Bach’s arrangement of the Adagio from Alessandro Marcello’s Oboe Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, BWV 974, pianist Sofya Gulyak concluded the last of the 2016-17 Steinway Society concerts, Sunday, May 7 at the Petit Trianon Theatre. The ambitious, largely Russian program, which included music by Clementi, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Medtner, and Prokofiev, seemed intent on displaying virtuoso Gulyak’s deft abilities in music requiring the crossing of the hands, and at which her bewitched audience consistently expressed its awed approval. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Baroque, Classical Era, Piano