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 Recent Reviews
CHAMBER
AUTHORITATIVE BARTOK HIGHLIGHTS TETZLAFF VIOLIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Christian Tetzlaff’s Feb. 18 violin recital rolled along with lively and fresh readings of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert when the specter of Bartok’s granitic Second Sonata intervened. The sonic shock to the audience of 250 in Weill was palpable. Composed in 1923 the 20-minute two-movement work i...
SYMPHONY
WHAT SOUND DO STAR-CROSSED LOVERS MAKE?
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so the Santa Rosa Symphony feted the occasion by telling and retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet, a tale ever the more poignant during our era of stark divisions. The first telling was from Berlioz; the second from Prokofiev. In between was Brahms’ monu...
CHAMBER
GOOD OLD WINE IN GOOD OLD BOTTLES AT VOM CONCERT
by Jeff Chan
Saturday, February 11, 2017
February 11 was the first day of sunshine in Sonoma County after nine days of rain, but a nearly full house of music lovers chose to spend their afternoon in Schroeder Hall instead of being outside, soaking up the warm sun. There were two equally compelling reasons to attend this concert, which fea...
SYMPHONY
FUNG TRIUMPHS IN SHOSTAKOVICH CONCERTO WITH VSO
by Elizabeth Warnimont
Sunday, January 29, 2017
The Vallejo Symphony Orchestra presented their season’s second concert Jan. 29 in Vallejo’s Hogan Auditorium, devoted to early Haydn, middle Shostakovich and Beethoven’s ground-breaking “Eroica” Symphony. In remarks to the audiences of nearly 400, Conductor Marc Taddei characterized Haydn’s Sympho...
CHAMBER
ENSEMBLE PERFECTION IN KLR TRIO'S 40TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Longevity has its place in classical music. Composers and especially conductors live a long time, and venerable piano trios can linger for years. One can recall the great Cortot-Thibaud-Casals staying on the international scene for decades, and more recently Stern-Istomin-Rose, Oistrakh-Oborin-Knu...
SYMPHONY
SUBLIME MOZART CLARINET CONCERTO TOPS SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Sonoma County Philharmonic’s long history of featuring soloists from the neighborhood struck gold again Jan. 28 with a ravishing Mozart Clarinet Concerto performance with soloist Roy Zajac. Before an audience of 300 the Santa Rosa High School hall the A Major Concerto (K. 626) unfolded gracefully w...
RECITAL
RISKY SPEED IN POTENT LUO RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Each half of pianist Wei Luo’s Schroeder Hall recital Jan. 22 contained beguiling interpretations and consummate technical command of Shostakovich and Albeniz works, but each half finished with less than exalted playing. Two of Shostakovich’s Op. 87 Preludes and Fugues opened the recital, from the ...
RECITAL
COLORFUL SCHUBERT AND CHOPIN WARM WEILL HALL IN AX RECITAL
by Nicki Bell
Friday, January 20, 2017
On a stormy winter evening Jan. 20 a rainbow of colorful Schubert and Chopin music came from the fingers, feet and heart of pianist Emanuel Ax.  Playing at the Weill Hall for the first time, this recital was a tribute to beauty in the arts. It conveyed the value and glory of balance, lyricism and el...
CHAMBER
A MUSICAL ODYSSEY IN RIVITING PRESTON HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 15, 2017
A standing room audience warmly greeted pianist Carolyn Steinbuck Jan. 15 in the season’s second Ft. Bragg Center For the Arts concert in Mendocino’s plebian Preston Hall. Ms. Steinbuck, to be joined in the program’s second half by clarinetist Eric Kritz and cellist Marcia Sloane, programmed Schube...
CHAMBER
FAST BUT NOT ALWAYS FURIOUS IN OAKMONT CELLO RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 12, 2017
New England-based cellist Edward Arron played an encore recital Jan. 12 at Music at Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium that was a in almost every way a success and surely an audience delight. Beginning with Bach’s G Major Sonata gamba the cellist and pianist Jeewon Park played the work that rolls along wi...
Local Concerts  
CHAMBER REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Sunday, February 19, 2017
Phillip Setzer, violin; David Finckel, cello; Wu Han, piano

(l to r) P. Setzer, Wu Han and D. Finckel Acknowledge Applause Feb. 19 in Weill

THREE BEETHOVEN TRIOS BEGUILE AUDIENCE IN FEB. 19 WEILL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 19, 2017

Chamber music concerts featuring one composer can be tricky, but the Han/Setzer/Finckel trio made a Feb. 19 Weill Hall audience of 500 hear and to a degree see the boundless creativity of Beethoven.

The G Major Trio, Op. 1, No. 2, opened the afternoon’s Beethoven odyssey and one wonders why it is the least played of the early trios. Out of the shadows of Haydn’s trios, the G Major sparkled under joyous playing and brisk tempos, especially appropriate to the music.

At the allegro vivace’s conclusion cellist David Finckel’s IPhone sounded, and as he sheepishly stopped the ringing violinist Philip Setzer quipped to the audience “no one should call David during this performance.” Shades of famous PDQ Bach routines.

In this trio and throughout the concert Wu Han’s pianism in fast legato runs was blurred and scales indistinct, but it’s well known that a less-than-full Weill Hall is acoustically unfriendly to piano legato in Romantic music. In the largo the lyrical main theme was played in a beguiling way with a perfectly-graded bantamweight ending. The jocular scherzo was followed by a finale played at fast tempo, but the music is always ripe for such an interpretation. Violinist Phillip Setzer’s light spiccato bow was up to the task and Ms. Han’s rollicking piano part never covered her colleagues.

Lovely ensemble playing was heard in the E-Flat Major (Op. 70, No. 2) Trio, especially in the subtle humor of the slow waltz of the allegretto with offbeat accents. Classical era compositional humor is usually associated with Haydn, but it’s also indigenous to Beethoven. The Trio underscored Schubert’s influence in the next section, showcasing an elegant song-like theme. Mr. Setzer played the several variations with tiny old-fashioned portamentos and the effect was fresh and persuasive.

In the dramatic finale Mr. Finckel took command with varied cello colors and voicing, and instrumental balances were exemplary. In this movement Beethoven seems to not want the music to end, and writes several false cadences. He can’t let it go, and so it was with the audience’s extended applause.

Following intermission Beethoven’s greatest Trio, the B-Flat Major (“Archduke”) completed the afternoon’s music. This noble work from 1811 received a performance that was surprisingly underplayed, even modest. This is not say the reading was routine, but simply that it was fashioned carefully without being distinctive or memorable. No extravagant ritards or unique phrase sculpting as can be heard in recordings (Cortot, Thibaud and Casals) or more recently in live performances of Yuja Wang with friends.

Perhaps the program’s finest playing was heard in the touching sentiment of the andante cantabile where the bitter-sweet D Major Variations ended with a simple restatement of the theme, as the composer did similarly in the Op. 109 and Op. 111 piano sonatas. The musicians captured the sorrowful hesitations and the delicate modulation that lends to this movement a mournful gravity. Impeccable artistry.

The transition to the finale, with its banal theme that wonderfully expands to contrasts and complexity, was jarring but effective. Mr. Setzer, a violinist that shuns a soloist role in favor of a handsome integrated sound, led the playing in the rondo that alternated between peasant textures and pungent repeated refrains. Ms. Han’s playing also rotated between half-pedal clarity (when the tempos slowed) and a pesky covering blur to the cello and violin lines. But no matter, the ending was joyous and brilliant.

There was no encore.

Events Calendar

CHORAL AND VOCAL
Creative Arts Series
Sunday, February 26, 2017
3:30 PM - Santa Rosa
Cantiamo Sonoma. Carol Menke, director
Music of James MacMillan, Kevin Siegfried, William Henry Smith, Nicolas Custer, Eric Whitacre, Stanford, Ola Gjeilo, Finzi, Paie Cantiones (1582), Will Todd, Peter Mathews, Alan Smith, Tomás Luis de V...
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CHAMBER
Mill Valley Chamber Music Society
Sunday, February 26, 2017
5:00 PM - Mill Valley
Daedalus Quartet. Min-Young Kim and Matilda Kaul, violin; Jesica Thompson, viola; Thomas Karin's, c
Program TBA...
Details

RECITAL
Green Music Center
Sunday, February 26, 2017
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Yu-Chien Tseng, violin. Pianist TBA
Mozart: Sonata in B-Flat Major, K. 454; Brahms; Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 108; Bach: Partita in D Minor, BWV 1004; Wieniawski: Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 15...
Details

CHAMBER
Musicians from Valley of the Moon Music Festival
Saturday, March 04, 2017
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Nicholas Phan, tenor; Nora Chasten, violin; Tanya Tomkins, cello; Eric Zivian, piano; Christopher Wh
Schubert's Cello and Song. Schubert: selected Lieder, and the Quintet in C Major for strings, D. 956 Admission: $30...
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CHAMBER
Mastercard Performance Series
Sunday, March 05, 2017
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Miró Quartet: Daniel Ching and William Fedkenheuer, violin; John Largess, viola; Joshua Gindele, cel
Haydn: Quartet in D Major, Op. 76, No. 5; Brahms: Quartet in C Minor, Op. 51, No. 1; Schumann: Piano Quintet in E Flat, Op. 44...
Details

SYMPHONY
Marin Symphony
Sunday, March 05, 2017
3:00 PM - San Rafael
Alasdair Neale, conductor. Marin Symphony Chorus, Stephen McKersie, director
Brahms: Nonie and Schicksalslied; Elgar: Symphony No. 1in A Flat, Op. 55...
Details

SYMPHONY
Marin Symphony
Tuesday, March 07, 2017
7:30 PM - San Rafael
Alasdair Neale, conductor. Marin Symphony Chorus, Stephen McKersie, director
Brahms: Nonie and Schicksalslied; Elgar: Symphony No. 1 in A Flat, Op. 55...
Details

RECITAL
Music at Oakmont
Thursday, March 09, 2017
1:30 PM - Santa Rosa
Einav Yarden, piano
Beethoven: Bagatells, Op. 33 (1, 2, 3, 7) and Sonata in A-flat Major, Op. 110; Schumann: Three Fantasy Pieces, Op.111, and "Forest Scenes," Op. 82; Haydn: F Major Sonata, Hob. XVI/29 Concerts are ope...
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SYMPHONY
Vallejo Symphony
Sunday, March 12, 2017
3:00 PM - Vallejo
Marc Taddei, conductor. Kay Stern, violin
Haydn: Symphony No. 8 in G Major (Evening); Kabalevsky: Violin Concerto in C Major, Op. 48; Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)...
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RECITAL
Mill Valley Chamber Music Society
Sunday, March 12, 2017
5:00 PM - Mill Valley
Sara Daneshpour, piano
Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit; Bach: "Die Kunst de Fuge" (Canon; Contrapunctus IV); Chopin: Barcarolle, Op. 60; Prokofiev: Sonata No. 8 in B-Flatm Major, Op. 84...
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