Author Archives: Roger Emanuels

Hungarian Pianist Peter Tóth Recital in Santa Cruz

There are so many ways to build a concert program, from very traditional to innovative. Pianist Peter Tóth offered a program of seven great historical keyboard composers while choosing some of the less well-known works by those composers along with a dose of more familiar pieces. The diverse programming was effective, offered by The Distinguished Artists Series at Peace United Church in Santa Cruz on November 3. 

The first half of the program was more classical, emphasizing the expressive use of the piano, while the pieces following intermission explored more dramatic and heavier sonorities. Three of the selections were in the theme and variations form, a favorite of composers for centuries. Handel’s Chaconne in G was the first of these, with an eight-bar theme consisting of a chord progression, followed by an array of twenty-one colorful variations that make use of the keyboard techniques of the 18th century. Tóth’s majestic opening with colorful ornamentation contrasted with expressive delicacy in the middle section, creating a gentle and intimate mood. 

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Piano, Romantic Era

Brahms in Rome

A spectacular all-Brahms concert in Rome with pianist Yefim Bronfman and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia conducted by Daniele Gatti offered the Piano Concerto No. 2 and Symphony No. 2 at the Sala Santa Cecilia on May 5. Arriving by bus in a torrential rainstorm, it nevertheless was exciting to see the Auditorium at the famed Parco della Musica, a huge modern building that contains several concert venues north of the city center.

Of interest to this retired orchestra player was the concert etiquette of the orchestra. Unlike symphony orchestras in the United States, here the players do not enter the stage early to tune and warm up. There is no pre-concert noodling in front of the entering public as in the USA. At four minutes after the announced concert time the players file on stage to continuous applause. They take their seats and the concertmaster begins the formal tuning process.

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Archived in these categories: Cello, Concerto, Orchestral, Piano, Romantic Era

Pianist Kate Liu performs for Aptos Keyboard Series

A rich program of classic works was on the menu for The Aptos Keyboard Series at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Aptos on January 13. Pianist Kate Liu took advantage of the warm acoustics of the church to create an atmosphere of quiet moods and colorful displays of sounds. Beethoven’s late Sonata No. 31, Op. 110, engages the listener much as do the same composer’s late string quartets, with tuneful passages and complex textures. Ms. Liu emphasized the lyrical qualities throughout with a beautiful singing tone. Even the fugue subjects were clearly apparent in the final movement. Two Beethoven characteristics were plumbed for dramatic tension, that is, the dynamic contrasts between loud and soft, and the use of silences. Actors know that a quiet delivery can demand more attention from the audience than a forceful one. And musicians know that a quiet phrase draws the listener into the action. This was a technique used by Ms. Liu throughout her program.

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Archived in these categories: Classical Era, Piano, Romantic Era

Carmel Bach Festival 2018 — Monday Chamber Concerts

Monday Chamber Concerts at the Bach Festival

The large orchestra and chorus concerts of the Carmel Bach Festival at Sunset Center get all the glory. Or, so I thought, until attending the chamber recitals offered on Monday, July 16. It turns out these recitals are playing to capacity audiences, people eager to hear smaller musical forces in intimate settings. Having enjoyed many daytime Bach Fest activities in the past, I decided to gorge myself with all three recitals today. All of them will be repeated again on Monday, July 23. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Carmel Bach Festival

Horszowski Trio at the Trianon Theater in San Jose

The San Jose Chamber Music Society presented a superb concert of the Horszowski Trio on November 12 at the Trianon Theater in San Jose. The program leaned heavily on the early Romantic period with trios by Schumann and Mendelssohn. But the central work was the world premiere of Night Migrations by Lisbon-born Andreia Pinto-Correia, commissioned by Chamber Music America for the Horszowski Trio. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 21st Century, Chamber music, Piano trio, Romantic Era