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Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
REVIEW

Dawn Harms, Anna Kruger, Thalia Moore and Roxanne Michaelian at Oakmont

INSTRUMENTAL EQUALITY IN JAN. 14 OAKMONT CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 14, 2010

Innovative but not necessarily exciting programming characterized the Kirkwood Piano Quartet’s Jan. 14 performance in Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium.

Unfamiliar works were perhaps the reason for an audience count far less than the usual Oakmont Concerts Series event, and the Kirkwood played a first half of rarely-heard music: Bridge’s one-movement “Phantasy” and a Stanford Quartet in F Major, Op. 15. The dreamy Bridge, from 1911, has many contrasting sections with echoes of late Faure. The playing was lovely, idiomatic and made the most of the subtle duos of viola and cello. The textures were homogeneous, right up to the deft arpeggios from pianist Roxanne Michaelian at the conclusion.

Charles Villiers Stanford is remembered mostly for choral works, though Oakmont resident and Stanford expert Harry Fry reminds associates that the English composers of the Victorian era were successful in other genres. The 1879 Quartet featured harmonies reminiscent of Brahms and Rubinstein, and the bucolic opening allegro con brio was richly played, the themes traded with clarity between violinist Dawn Harms and cellist Thalia Moore. Ms. Harms’ tone can be thin at the top, but Ms. Moore has an exceptionally sonorous bottom register, spacious and frequently doing the voice leading chores. This was especially apparent in the long and lush adagio movement, the Kirkwood catching the majesty of the writing with hints of Elgar. The concluding allegro was spirited, Brahmsian in the lower registers, the piano never covering the other instruments.

It was a fluent if not a particularly powerful reading, and the music must have been novel for just about everyone in Berger. Not so for the familiar Quartet in E-Flat Major, Op. 47, of Schumann, that closed the program. Here all was in place and the Kirkwood’s interest in a blended instrumental texture foremost. Tempos seemed right throughout and the famous andante cantabile saw each player having a chance at the nostalgic and opulent main theme. Mid way through this glowing and vocal movement violist Anna Kruger took up the theme with Ms. Moore in a poignant melodic statement, every note expressive.

Without pause the finale began, quick fugal-like sections ending quickly. Here again the Kirkwood favored equality of sound over fervor, the reading fluent and beautiful without ever raising the audience’s temperature. There was no encore.