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 Recent Reviews
RECITAL
DEMANDING VIOLIN SONATAS CONQUERED BY BEILMAN-WEISS DUO IN SCHROEDER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Violinist Benjamin Beilman’s ravishing Mozart performance at last summer’s Weill Hall ChamberFest finale lured an enthusiastic crowd to Schroeder Hall May 14 to hear if his secure virtuosity was up to a program of demanding sonatas. He did not disappoint. With the powerful pianist Orion Weiss in t...
SYMPHONY
SOVIETS INVADE WEILL HALL, TAKE NO PRISONERS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 07, 2017
Bruno Ferrandis may be French, but he excels in Soviet repertoire. His Slavonic expertise was more than amply demonstrated at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s May 7 concert, where the program began joyfully with Khachaturian’s ballet suite from “Masquerade,” surged forward with Prokofiev’s second violin co...
RECITAL
MASTERFUL PIANISM IN GOODE'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, May 05, 2017
Pianist Richard Goode programmed an evening of treasures May 5 from four great composers, and is an artist of intimacy and intelligence, power and passion, able to go deep and to soar. Hearing Mr. Goode play this literature was a reminder of how music does indeed bridge worlds and time. Bach’s E m...
RECITAL
ELEGANT ORGAN SALUTE TO THE REFORMATION
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Organist Jonathan Dimmock presented an April 30 recital in homage to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, playing Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh instrument. Mr. Dimmock is the organist for the San Francisco Symphony, principal organist for the Palace of the Legion of Honor and teaches at...
CHAMBER
NOTES AND BARS DO NOT A PRISON MAKE
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, April 29, 2017
The Hermitage Piano Trio brought exuberant musicality and sumptuous sound to a packed house April 29 in Occidental's Performing Arts Center for the last concert in the Redwood Arts Council’s 37th season. With a wide interpretive range--from lush to delicate to passionate--these three young Russian v...
RECITAL
SCHUMANN AND BARTOK HIGHLIGHT BRONFMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Lee Ormasa
Friday, April 21, 2017
Those people once addicted to the “Angry Birds” game application likely suffered an auditory flashback during the opening measures of the allegro from Bartok’s Suite, Op. 14, the opening work in Yefim Bronfman’s April 21 recital at Weill Hall. The repetitive opening figures of the Bartok were...
SYMPHONY
HULKING MAHLER "TITAN" AT SO CO PHIL'S SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 08, 2017
A composer’s first symphony rarely gives a clear indication of what beautiful complexities will follow over the years. Early Mozart and Tchaikovsky are examples, and the big exceptions to this axiom are the “firsts” of Beethoven, Shostakovich and Mahler. Tackling Mahler ‘s D Major Symphony (No. 1,...
SYMPHONY
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY STAYS CLOSE TO HOME
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Santa Rosa Symphony concerts usually feature high-powered soloists imported from afar, but for their recent “Bring on the Strings” concert set, they stuck close to home, thrusting their principal violin, viola and cello into the limelight. The violinist (Joseph Edelberg) and the violist (Elizabeth P...
RECITAL
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
SYMPHONY
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
Local Concerts  
CHAMBER REVIEW
Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series / Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Left Coast Chamber Ensemble. Tanya Tomkins and Leighton Fong, cello; Eric Zivian, piano; Anna Presler, violin

Left Coast Musicians A. Presler, E. Zivian and T. Tomkins

KODALY DUO TRUMPS POPULAR MENDELSSOHN TRIO AT SLV CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

It’s not really a secret, but Sonoma County’s best chamber music series is one without much notoriety or publicity. The concerts at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village programs are only for residents and a few invited guests. Impresario Robert Hayden years ago honed his producer skills as founder of the well-known Music at Oakmont Series, and now he often mounts two Spring Lake Village concerts a month in an intimate setting with excellent acoustics. No other North Coast music productions can equal his seminal accomplishment.

The June 21 concert featured Berkeley’s Left Coast Chamber Ensemble and drew 125 people to the Montgomery Center on a warm evening.

Eric Zivian, perhaps Northern California’s most active fortepiano artist, played the house’s conventional concert instrument and opened in two works, first one of Schumann’s Six Studies after Caprices of Paganini, and then Chopin’s F Minor Fantasy, Op. 49. Played from score, the Schumann was full of swirls of arpeggios and passed without much notice, and the famous Fantasy received a workmanlike interpretation that stressed speed in runs at the expense of tone color, inner voices and an assertive left hand line. The half-pedal runs contributed to sonic speed but not clarity and shape.

The concert closed with arguably the most popular piano trio ever written, Mendelssohn’s D Minor, and the performance should have the evening’s gem. Loaded with memorable tunes and richly hued contrasts, the reading by cellist Tanya Tomkins, violinist Anna Presler and Mr. Zivian we beset throughout by problems of balance. Mr. Zivian’s playing from the beginning sporadically overpowered his colleagues, and Ms. Presler lacked a strong thematic projection to blend with the piano part.

The Ensemble’s best playing came in the andante where the sonic mix was fluid, but even with the Mendelssohn’s glorious heart-on-sleeve themes there wasn’t enough tonal warmth and rhythmic subtlety to make the performance rise above the routine.

Tempos in the first three movements were convincing but in the concluding finale the tempo was pushed, generating occasional smudged notes. This music can take high speed but it needs clarity in articulation. This lack of ensemble continuity missed many small delights, including the delicious left-hand accents in the piano line that the composer surprisingly inserted, and a cohesive interplay of instrumental voices.

Kodaly’s Op. 7 Duo for Violin and Cello was far and away the concert’s highlight. Cellist Leighton Fong and Ms. Presler combined to give this rarely heard 24-minute work a scintillating performance that never felt extended or the lack of additional instruments. Composed in 1914, the three-movement Duo seems in a direct line to Janacek’s string quartets, especially the “Intimate Letters” Quartet written in 1928, and Kodaly’s own powerful Sonata for Solo Cello (Op. 8) that Alicia Weilerstein played here several years ago.

In the opening heroicallegro serioso the repeats had ample rubato and each had a different but subtle character. Beautiful playing was heard throughout, ending in a fast march and pensive chords before light filigree. The instruments were in perfect equality. Kodaly is a master of string pizzicato and positioning the violin constantly in the upper register, with many long-held notes on the E string. Ms. Presler played the demanding part with aplomb, sometimes leaning into a note and alternating a narrow and thick violin sound. Both Mr. Fong and Ms. Presler were able to clearly project the many turbulent passages, especially in the cello line.

The playing in the plaintive adagio was captivating, the themes exchanged often between cello and violin, and the acoustics of the hall favoring clear articulation. Often the instrumental voices were many octaves apart, but were always distinct, especially in the many descending three-note cello phrases. The playing underscored the music’s sadness, and in strange way its theatricality.

The improvisatory introduction to the last movement (maestoso e largamente) opened quietly and became dance like in the duo’s interpretation. Here Ms. Presler was particularly effective with accurate intonation and deft phrasing. Themes dramatically soared upward and then quietly subsided. Both players were carefully sensitive to the frequent contrasts in this rapidly evolving music, and their virtuosity was compelling and everywhere enjoyable. Mr. Fong’s cello had everywhere sonorous depth, ranging from a deep bass line up into the viola sphere.

Spring Lake Village concerts often spring musical surprises, so finding the sensational Kodaly performance displacing the ever-popular Mendelssohn Trio should not have been startling. That’s surely a reason to be a musical explorer.


Events Calendar

OTHER
Mendocino Music Festival
Saturday, July 08, 2017
2:00 PM - Mendocino
Calder Quartet. Benjamin Jacobson and Andrew Bulbrook, violin; Jonathan Moerscher, viola; Eric Byer
Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 13; Beethoven: A Minor Quartet, Op. 132 Tickets are $12 to $40...
Details

SYMPHONY
Mendocino Music Festival
Sunday, July 09, 2017
6:00 PM - Mendocino
Festival Orchestra, Allan Pollack, conductor. Jeremy Cohen, violin.
Piazzolla: Four Seasons of Buenos Aires; Rimsky-Korsakov: Sheherazade; Gershwin: Cuban Overture Tickets are $12 to $50...
Details

CHAMBER
Mendocino Music Festival
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
2:30 PM - Mendocino
Kate Stenberg, violin; Sarah Cahill, piano; William Winant, percussion.
Harrison: Varied Trio, Grand Duo, A Summerfield Set, Largo Ostinato, Tandy's Tango, Jig and Range Song, Changing Moment, Dance for Lisa Karon Tickets are $12 to $30...
Details

RECITAL
Mendocino Music Festival
Thursday, July 13, 2017
8:00 PM - Mendocino
John Novacek, piano
Schumann: Carnaval, Op. 9; Beethoven: F Major Sonata, Op. 10, No. 2; Shostakovich: Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87 (C Major and D-Flat Major); Ginastera: Danzas Argentinas, Op. 2: Novacek: 3 Concert Rags...
Details

OPERA
Mendocino Music Festival
Friday, July 14, 2017
7:30 PM - Mendocino
Jason Sherbundy, conductor. Ann Woodhead, stage director.
Sergio Gonzalez: Ernesto; Sara LeMesh:
Donizetti: Opera "Don Pasquale" Tickets $12 to $50...
Details

RECITAL
Mendocino Music Festival
Saturday, July 15, 2017
2:30 PM - Mendocino
Zofo Duet. Eva-Maria Zimmerman and Keisuke Nakagoshi, piano
Program TBA Tickets ar $12 - $30...
Details

CHAMBER
Valley of the Moon Music Festival
Sunday, July 16, 2017
4:00 PM - Sonoma
Eric Hoeprich, clarinet; Nikki Enfeld, soprano; Elizabeth Blumenstock and Holly Piccoli, violin; Car
Mozart: Quintet in A Major for Clarinet and Strings, K. 581; music of Schumann and Chopin (TBA) Tickets $45 and for under 30 $22.50. Six or more have a 15% discount...
Details

RECITAL
Mendocino Music Festival
Sunday, July 16, 2017
8:00 PM - Mendocino
Susan Waterfall, lecturer; Brian Thorsett, tenor; Miles Graber, piano
Schubert leider Tickets are $12 - $30...
Details

OTHER
Mendocino Music Festival
Monday, July 17, 2017
2:30 PM - Mendocino
Susan Waterfall, lecturer and pianist; Julie Kierstine, soprano; Daniel Lockert, piano. Festival Ch
Schubert: Octet; Schubert: lieder and Moments Musicaux (TBA) Tickets are $12 to $30...
Details

CHAMBER
Mendocino Music Festival
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
2:30 PM - Mendocino
Julian Waterfall Pollack and Susan Waterfall, piano. Festival Chamber Players (TBA)
Schubert: Fantasy in F Minor for Piano, Four Hands, D. 940; String Quintet in C Major, Op. 163 (D. 956)...
Details