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 Recent Reviews
CHAMBER
CLARA SCHUMANN TRIO COMMANDS VOM CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT AT HANNA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 24, 2021
Violinist Rachell Ellen Wong
The Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Series has begun several virtual and a few live concerts in its new seventh season, some broadcast from Sonoma’s Hanna Center Hall and some in posh local venues. July 24’s video had a small live audience and a well-produced video program of three works. Titled “...
CHAMBER
EXEMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MENDO FESTIVAL FT. BRAGG CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Alexander String Quartet - 2021
Faced with the impossibility of presenting concerts in the iconic large white tent on the bluff, the Mendocino Music Festival opted to use Ft. Bragg’s Cotton Auditorium for ten events in the abbreviated 35th season. San Francisco’s Alexander String Quartet played July 21 to a fully masked audience ...
CHAMBER
RARELY-PLAYED SCHUMANN HIGHLIGHTS HEALDSBURG RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 10, 2021
Violinist Gary McLaughlin
Brave New Music sporadically produces concerts in and around Healdsburg, and July 10’s violin recital in downtown St. Paul’s Church must have been one of the first post-lockdown, post-be-extra-careful classical music concerts in Sonoma County's summer season. New Music Founder Gary McLaughlin with ...
CHAMBER
ECHOS ON A WARM SUMMER NIGHT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, July 10, 2021
l to r: C Stewart, W. Loder, M. Eldridge, J. Cohen
ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s first concert in a year and a half, “A Musical Promenade,” was a promenade indeed. When patrons arrived at San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for the 6:00 performance July 10, they were funneled through the garden to the Duncan Hall patio, where folding chairs were set ...
CHAMBER
LONG DISTANCE LOVE BEGINS VOM SUMMER FESTIVAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Thursday, June 24, 2021
Tenor Kyle Stegall
The Valley of the Moon Music Festival offered a 7th season preview June 24 with a stunning online concert, aptly named Long Distance Love, featuring inspired performances of Beethoven's short song cycle An die ferne Geliebte,, and selections from Brahms’ beloved Liebeslieder Wal...
RECITAL
ROMERO'S ARTISTRY IN SLV RECITAL PROGRAMMING AND PERFORMANCE
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Pianist Gustavo Romero
Gustavo Romero has been an admired visitor to North Bay stages, playing over a decade recitals at Dominican University, the Music at Oakmont concerts and at the Spring Lake Village Concert Series. He returned June 2 to SLV in a virtual recital, videoed from his home concert hall the University of N...
RUBICON'S VIRTUAL CONCERT A MALANGE OF CONTRASTS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Rubicon Trio
The inaugural concert of a new Mendocino County chamber group is a reason for celebration, and the Rubicon Trio made the most of a mixed musical menu during a May16 virtual concert. Presented by the Ukiah Symphony Orchestra as the last in their “Salons with the Symphony” Series, the Rubicon began w...
RECITAL
PIANO VIRTUOSITY IN YAKUSHEV'S REDWOOD ARTS RECITAL
by Nicki Bell
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Pianist Ilya Yakushev
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev’s recital for the Redwood Arts Council was perhaps the local season’s virtual music at the greatest distance, as the filming May 16 came from a church in St. Petersburg. And good filming it was, with multiple camera viewpoints of the church, full and split screens and ...
CHAMBER
STYLISH HAYDN QUARTETS CLOSE GREEN ROOM SERIES
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 9, 2021
St. Lawrence String Quartet
Completing the Green Music Center’s spring series series of “Green Room” virtual concerts, the St. Lawrence String Quartet played May 9 a lightweight program of two Haydn works. Lightweight perhaps, but in every way satisfying. The G Major Quartet (Op. 76, No.1) began the music that was supplement...
RECITAL
ECLECTIC PIANISM IN SPRING LAKE VILLAGE VIRTUAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Pianist Dmitry Rachmanov
During the pandemic The Santa Rosa Symphony’s virtual concerts received their due in performance praise, but another series, Spring Lake Village, more quietly presented monthly virtual concerts to a select local audience. May 5 saw the latest event, produced by impresario Robert Hayden, and feature...
Local Concerts  
CHAMBER REVIEW
Piano Sonoma / Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Peter Dugan and Christine Wu, piano; Kara Dugan, mezzo-soprano

Mezzo-soprano Kara Dugan

ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING AT PIANOSONOMA CONCERT IN SCHROEDER HALL

by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Tuesday, July 20, 2021

After a dark year bereft of live performance, pianoSonoma launched July 20 the first Vino & Vibrato concert of the 2021 season in Sonoma State's Schroeder Hall, albeit sadly senza vino due to Covid protocols. Three exceptional musicians showered the audience with an interesting variety of piano and song literature, emotionally diverse and warming to the soul. In his introduction Festival founder Michael Shinn assured the masked audience of 110 that everyone on stage was vaccinated, an important consideration since one of the three performers was a singer.

Pianist Peter Dugan in 2020 became the host of the NPR show From the Top, a program devoted to showcasing young classical musicians. His impressive technique at the piano is complemented by his vivid personality as a presenter, and together with spouse mezzo-soprano Kara Dugan the duo bantered charmingly with each other and the audience. A quick peek at one of their Covid home broadcasts for From the Top revealed the same kind of engagement that makes classical music approachable for the uninitiated as well as a knowledgeable audience, young and old alike.

Mr. Dugan, who also serves as the head of pianoSonoma's Artist in Residence Program, played like a conductor/coach but with full-on virtuosity, a bit reminiscent of Leonard Bernstein. Besides his thrilling playing, his attention to text and nuance makes even a sedate art song exciting.

Ms. Dugan's choice of three favorite Mozart lieder was like a welcome visit from old friends. "Als Luise die Briefe ihres ungetreuen Liebhabers verbrannte" (one of the longest song titles ever - "As Luise burned the letters from her unfaithful lover") was punctuated by woeful, angry, yet never harsh, declamations. The love song "An Chloë" landed sweetly, and her rich and strikingly beautiful voice sustained the long lines of "Abendempfindung" effortlessly.

Their second set involved three songs by Finnish composers Sibelius (poems by the uncredited Finnish poet Runeberg who wrote poems in Swedish) and Toivo Kuula (text uncredited), less familiar but engaging nonetheless, and powerfully performed. It would have been helpful to have had the text translations included in the printed program since it's unlikely that anybody in the audience understood Swedish or Finnish.

Their third set exploded with three selections from de Falla's ever popular Siete Canciones Populares Españolas. Mr. Dugan literally set the piano on fire, and here is where I felt Ms. Dugan sang at her most effective. Her voice, technique and musicality are consistent throughout, but she tends to be a little reserved as a stage performer. In these de Falla songs she gave us more thrills together with the beauty and technique and musicianship. A more extroverted presence and some volatile artistic temperament surely resides in this gifted singer already, and would complete the picture for this listener.

In a nod for solo piano, Christine Wu played Chopin’s four Mazurkas from Op. 17. These magical works from 1833 are usually played either with careful rubato emphasizing structure (Artur Rubinstein) or with spirited dance rhythms (Ignaz Friedman). Ms. Wu chose neither, playing a muscular B-Flat Major (No. 1) that seemed overly loud with the instrument’s bright top, and aggressively continued in the long A-Flat Major (No. 3) that underscored offbeat accents.

The best playing came in the concluding A Minor where she let more air into the rhythms and at the return of the plaintive and nostalgic main theme let the damper pedal craft a lovely overlapping phrase. The short repeat at the end was played with an eerie quiet, highlighting the Mazurka’s subtle mystery.

Additional concerts in the series are July 27 (songs; music for cello) and July 29, with Bach’s Concerto for Four Keyboards and the world premiere of Thomas Cabaniss’ “Trinity Pass.”

Terry McNeill contributed to this review.


Events Calendar

CHAMBER
Piano Sonoma
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
6:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Doori Na, violin and cello; Anita Graef and Mike Dahlberg, cello; Peter Dugan, piano; Kara Duggan, m
Handel: Passacaglia (arr. Halvorsen); Barber: Selections from "Hermit Songs"; Saint Saëns: Allegro Appassionato, Op. 43; David Baker: Selections from "Roots II"; Bloch: Selections from Three Nocturnes...
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CHAMBER
Piano Sonoma
Thursday, July 29, 2021
6:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Michael Shinn, Jessica Shinn, Christina Wu and Peter Dugan, Piano; Anita Graef, cello
Thomas Cabaniss: Trinity Pass (World Premiere); Takemitsu: Rain Tree Sketch; Saint Saëns: selections from the "Carnival of the Animals"; Milhaud: Scaramouche; Bach: Concerto for Four Keyboards in A Mi...
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CHAMBER
Valley of the Moon Music Festival
Thursday, July 29, 2021
6:00 PM - Sonoma
Emily Marsh, contralto; Lisa Lee, violin; Liana Bérubé, viola; Tanya Tomkins, cell; Eric Vivian, pi
Fauré: Piano Quartet (TBA); Songs of Debussy, Berlioz and Bizet (TBA) Virtual concert, pre recorded. $5 to $25. RSVP to Valley of the Moon Festival website. One hour concert...
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CHAMBER
Valley of the Moon Music Festival
Saturday, July 31, 2021
5:00 PM - Sonoma
Bettina Mussumeli, Kako Miura and Vivian Mayers, violin; Jodi Levitz, viola; Drake Driscoll, cello
Allesandro Rolla: Duets in C Major and E-Flat Major; Beethoven: String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 132 Virtual concert, live stream from Yulupa Mountain Ranch. $5 to $25. RSVP to VOM Festival website. ...
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CHAMBER
Valley of the Moon Music Festival
Sunday, August 1, 2021
5:00 PM - Sonoma
Tanya Tomkins, cello; Bettina Mussumeli and Rachel Ellen Wong, violin; Jodi Levitz, viola; additiona
Dvorák: Miniatures for Two Violins and Viola, Op. 75a; Mendelssohn: Octet in E Flat Major, Op. 20 Virtual concert, live stream from Yulupa Mountain Ranch. $5 to $25. RSVP to VOM Festival website. N...
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CHAMBER
Symphony of the Redwoods
Sunday, August 1, 2021
2:30 PM - Ft. Bragg
Kathleen Reynolds, flute; Jeff Ives, viola; Corey Antipa, cello; Marcia Lotter, violin
Mozart: Flute Quartet in D Major; Franz Anton Hoffmeister: Flute Quartet in C Major, Op. 16, No. 2; Ben-Haim: Serenade for Flute and String Quartet; Volkmar Andreae: Flute Quartet, Op. 43 The outdoor...
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CHAMBER
Arcata Bay String Quartet
Sunday, August 8, 2021
2:30 PM - Mendocino
Cindy Moyer and Karen Davy, violin; Sherry Hanson, viola; Garrick Woods, cello
Shostakovich: Quartet No. 8; Brahms: B Flat Major Quartet, Op. 67; Beethoven: G Major Quartet, Op. 18 Admission is free; Outside stage concert by the Church....
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CHAMBER
Symphony of the Redwoods
Sunday, August 15, 2021
2:30 PM - Ft. Bragg
Scott Macomber, trumpet; Bruce Chrisp, trombone; Sharon Lee Kim, piano
Program TBA Free admission, but admission to the FB Botanical Gardens is required. Please see the Bontanical Gardens website for advance reservations....
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CHAMBER
Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
7:00 PM - Santa Rosa
Angela Lee, cello; Mark Anderson, piano
Transcription program. Schubert: An die Musik, Das Wandern, Wohin?; Hahn: A Chloris; Mendelssohn: Song Without Words, Op. 19, No. 1; Bizet: Carmen; Puccini: O Mio Babbino Caro; Rachmaninoff: In the Si...
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San Francisco International Piano Festival
Friday, August 20, 2021
5:00 PM - San Francisco
Nicholas Phillips, piano
Griffes: Fantasy Pieces, Op. 6; Pleasure Dome of Kubla Kahn; Roman Sketches, Op. 7 $5 to $25. Virtual Concert on YouTube...
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