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Choral and Vocal
SOMBER GERMAN POETRY IN SONG AT ROSCHMANN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Two weeks does make a hefty difference. Feb. 3 saw the diva Renée Fleming beguile a full Weill Hall house in a mix of Brahms, Broadway show songs and Dvorak chestnuts. It was a gala event with couture gowns and colorful extra-musical communication between singer and her rapt audience. Dorothea Rösc...
Chamber
NOVEL AND FAMILIAR WORKS FROM THE TILDEN TRIO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 11, 2018
North Coast chamber music fans have the luxury of two fine resident piano trios, with the frequently performing Trio Navarro at Sonoma State, and the Tilden Trio at San Rafael’s Dominican University. The Tilden plays less often, but their Feb. 11 performance brought several hundred to Angelico Hall ...
Symphony
A FIFTH CONTENDER ENTERS THE RING FOR THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, February 10, 2018
In these international times, what makes a piece of music American? For Michael Christie, the answer is that it needs to have at least premiered on these shores, if not been composed here. Thus the rationale for the “all American” program that Christie--the fifth and final conducting candidate for t...
Recital
HAUNTING RACHMANINOFF WORKS IN HU'S MAO RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 08, 2018
Ching-Yun Hu made a return Music at Oakmont appearance Feb. 8 in Berger Auditorium, reprising a recital she made in the same hall four years ago. Many of the recital’s trappings were the same, but the music Ms. Hu chose to play was decidedly different. All afternoon the pianist was in an aggressiv...
Chamber
A COMPLETE ARTISTIC PACKAGE IN FLEMING'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Vaida Falconbridge and Mary Beard
Saturday, February 03, 2018
The diva Renée Fleming strode on the Weill Hall stage Feb. 2 in her first couture gown of the evening, a gray and swirling cream strapless sheath with flamboyant coordinating stole. For this concert, Ms. Fleming stayed to somewhat lighter fare, foregoing heavier dramatic and coloratura arias for a v...
Recital
ZNAIDER-KULEK DUO CHARMS AND CHALLANGES WEILL AUDIENCE FEB. 2
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 02, 2018
Weill hall has mounted several exceptional piano recitals, with Garrick Ohlsson’s titanic Liszt concert, and of course Lang Lang’s two insouciant but also compelling performances topping the list since 2013. But arguably the virtuoso violinists have on balance been more impressive, and thoughts g...
Chamber
VIVID GERMAN ROMANTICISM IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT IN SCHROEDER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Though not new to Sonoma County, the Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) concerts are relatively recent in the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall. So the first of three spring concerts Jan. 27 provided a picture of what’s in the repertoire leading up to their Festival this summer at Sonoma’s Ha...
Symphony
MONUMENTAL NIELSEN SYMPHONY CAPS SO CO PHIL CONCERT AT SR HS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Turning again away from conventional repertoire, the Sonoma County Philharmonic programmed Jan. 27 three works in what were local debut performances in Santa Rosa High School’s Performing Arts Center. Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony, Op. 29, called “Inextinguishable,” closed the program with an extravaga...
Chamber
ECLECTIC ANDERSON & ROE TRANSCRIPTIONS CAPTIVATE WEILL HALL AUDIENCE
by Nicki Bell
Sunday, January 21, 2018
From the first moment when Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe walked Jan. 21 on the Weill Hall stage and spoke to the audience about their two-piano program, it was clear that an afternoon of drama, humor, virtuosity, warmth, transcendence and excitement was in store. This dynamic and mesmerizing ...
Chamber
BALCOM TRIO HIGHLIGHTS DELPHI'S RAC CONCERT IN OCCIDENTAL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, January 20, 2018
The Redwood Arts Council audience first met the Delphi Trio (Jeffrey LaDeur, (piano), Liana Berube (violin), and cellist Michelle Kwon) in 2013, and subsequent concerts in the same Occidental hall have become crowd favorites. The January 20th program before a capacity audience seemed to have enthus...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Deep Valley Chamber Music Series / Sunday, February 14, 2010
Yuri Cho and Valerie Li, violins
David Samuel, viola
Adrian Fung, cello

Afiara String Quartet

QUARTETS AND A CHRYSANTHEMUM VALENTINE IN UKIAH

by James Houle
Sunday, February 14, 2010

David Rounds, founder of the Deep Valley Chamber Music Series in Ukiah, has done it once again by engaging the exciting Afiara String Quartet for a Valentine’s Day performance in the Grace Hudson Museum. For an overflow audience, the young players from Canada provided a demonstration of the evolving Gallant and Classical styles perfected by Haydn in his six Op. 33 quartets, and which Mozart so effectively copied in his series of six quartets dedicated to Haydn. The last of Mozart's set of six, Quartet No. 19 in C Major, K. 465 (“The Dissonant”) is classicism its zenith with eloquent balance and restraint. In the second half of the program, the Afiara continued their affinity with Beethoven in his Quartet in F Major, Op. 59, No. 1 (“Rasumovsky”). Here Beethoven had found he could no longer work within the confines of the classical style and broke free into Romanticism and a heroic individuality.

The program began with a new work by the young Serbian composer Alexsandra Vrebalov, “Pannonia Boundless.” In a short seven minutes the Afiara unleashed a sad lament for violin, a romantic elegy for viola, and a crazed gypsy dance for two violins. Violinists Valeri Li and Yuri Cho threw the wild melodies back and forth with abandon. It would be easy to play this work too heavily, forcing the violins to complete for attention with the lower strings, and to try to overwhelm them, but Afiara avoided this path and made the Czardas a light and exciting dance. Violist David Samuel provided much verve.

Strangely, the Afiara followed with the haunting “Crisantemi,” a beautiful but sad memorial written by Puccini upon the death of the Duke of Savoy in 1890. While Puccini loved chamber music, he devoted himself to the operatic stage, except for an early quartet in D Major and some trifles. But in “Crisantemi” there is a brief but lovely chrysanthemum, and the composer found in its opening passage a rising chromatic duet for the violins that was so exquisite he reused it in the last act of his 1893 opera “Manon Lescaut.” The Quartet’s delicate playing was enough to make one sigh or cry.

Mozart’s “Dissonant” Quartet opens where the “Crisantemi” leaves off – a descending chromatic passage. In the last of the six “Haydn Quartets,” melodies and phrases are tossed between the players as in an intimate conversation, making it difficult at times to know exactly who is speaking. The Afiara's control of piano and pianissimo was exemplary. The second movement was performed serenely, the fourth with considerable gusto.

From 1807, Beethoven’s F Major Quartet featured in the first movement Ms. Li’s strongly romantic violin line, following the Adam Fung’s authoritative thematic playing in the cello. Mr. Fung’s cello tended to dominate in much of this “Rasumovsky” reading but never in a way that took away from the other players. The second movement opens with the 15 repeated notes, the same figure returning as the movement develops. During the afternoon the pizzicato playing by the Alfiara was wonderful to watch as well as to hear. The fourth-movement “Theme Russe” pays homage to the Count Razumovsky, the Russian Tsar's ambassador to Vienna and to the Count's own talents as a violinist.

An encore was demanded by the audience, and the Quartet responded with a brief passage from Shostakovich’s Suite from “The Gadfly.”

With this concert the Afiara completed its American tour and returned to New York, leaving Mendocino County a lovely Valentine’s Day present of memorable music.