Arts & Events

New: Murray Perahia Performs at Zellerbach

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday April 18, 2016 - 12:37:00 PM

Pianist Murray Perahia has been in the spotlight for more than 40 years. I first heard him play in a recital in Princeton, New Jersey, back in 1979-80. Now, on Sunday, April 17, he returned to Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall for a recital under the auspices of Cal Performances. On the program were works by Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, and Beethoven.

The opening work was Joseph Haydn’s Variations in F minor, a piece published in 1799, late in Haydn’s long career. It was hailed by scholar A. Peter Brown as a work that “presents a microcosmic but complete view of Haydn’s late keyboard style.” In this brief set of variations, two themes are developed. The first, in F minor, seems melancholy but deeply felt. The second, in F Major, reveals a brighter mood, and it is decorated by a number of brief right-hand runs that are the pianistic equivalent of a singer’s trills. Murray Perahia was particularly expressive in handling the second, brighter theme, which included much cross-handed virtuosity. -more-

Sold: A Tale of Abuse That's Difficult to Watch

Gar Smith
Friday April 15, 2016 - 02:58:00 PM

Opens April 15 at Berkeley's Elmwood Cinema

(2:00, 4:10, 7:00, 9:15)

The US-produced, India-filmed feature, Sold, is it praiseworthy project with much to recommend. It is based on a best-selling book by Patricia McCormick that has been translated into 32 languages. It is directed by Academy Award winner Jeffrey D. Brown. It has been honored at film festivals from Albuquerque to Abu Dhabi. It was executive-produced by the multi-talented British film star Emma Thompson. And the cast includes Gillian Anderson and David Arquette and stars Niyar Saikia as Lakshmi, an innocent village girl from the mountains of Nepal who is sold into bondage in a Kolkatta brothel.

The issue of human trafficking deserves the utmost attention. The story of Lakshmi's plight is clearly designed to ignite global concern. But, for this reviewer, there were some problems.


Gil Shaham Shines in Bach’s Solo Violin Works

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday April 15, 2016 - 02:52:00 PM

Johann Sebastian Bach’s Six Sonatas and Partitas for Unaccompanied Violin are towering monuments of the violin repertoire. As such, they pose a challenge for even the greatest violinists. Gil Shaham, who performed these works on Thursday, April 14, at Zellerbach Hall, felt the challenge so strongly that he waited many years into his illustrious career before beginning to play (and record) these Bach masterpieces. The result, as one might expect from such a consummate musician as Shaham, combines technical mastery and passionate commitment. Playing the 1699 “Countess Polignac” Stradivarius, Shaham handles the many difficult passages in these works with apparent ease. But we can rest assured that the ease is only apparent, and that Shaham has put a great deal of work and thought into how these sonatas and partitas should be performed. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Symphony Announces Next Season

From Jean Shirk
Friday April 15, 2016 - 02:55:00 PM

Music Director Joana Carneiro and Berkeley Symphony today announced the concerts and programs for the 2016-17 season, including the world premiere of a new Berkeley Symphony commission by Paul Dresher; the West Coast premiere of James MacMillan’s new Symphony No. 4, a co-commission; and the Bay Area premiere of Mason Bates’ Cello Concerto, with Joshua Roman as soloist. The Orchestra will also perform Shostakovich’s epic Symphony No. 13, “Babi Yar”, with bass Denis Sedov and alumni of choruses including the UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus, the Pacific Boychoir Academy, and members of the St. John of San Francisco Russian Orthodox Chorale, led by Marika Kuzma. Shai Wosner is soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, and Philippe Quint performs Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto with the Orchestra. The Orchestra performs Stravinsky’s Petrushka and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4. -more-

Press Release: West Edge Opera’s 2016 Festival Opens July 30 at Oakland’s Abandoned Train Station

From Marion Kohlstedt
Friday April 15, 2016 - 02:52:00 PM

West Edge Opera’s 2015 Festival of three operas will take place July 30 through August 14 at Oakland’s abandoned Train Station at 18th and Wood in West Oakland.

Under the combined artistic leadership of General/Artistic Director Mark Streshinsky and Music Director Jonathan Khuner, the Festival opens on Saturday, July 30 at 8 pm with Leoš Janácek’s The Cunning Little Vixen. With Janácek’s blend of lyrical modernism and central European folk melody, Vixen also has the distinction of being the only opera in the repertory based on a graphic novel. Soprano Amy Foote will sing the title role of the Vixen, with bass-baritone Philip Skinner as the Forester. Mezzo-soprano Nikola Printz is the Fox and others in the cast are Joseph Meyers, Nikolas Nackley and Carl King. Patrick Diamond will direct and Jonathan Khuner will conduct. Repeat performances are Sunday, August 7 at 3 pm and Saturday, August 13 at 1 pm. -more-