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Chamber
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 08, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
Choral and Vocal
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
Chamber
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
Chamber
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
Chamber
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 09, 2020
The Feb. 9 performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony offered a healthy dose of 21st century music firmly bound to the 19th. Matt Browne’s first symphony, “The Course of Empire”—based on a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School of American painting in the 1820s—emp...
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 02, 2020
Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert. In his eighth conducting season with the So C...
Symphony
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 01, 2020
The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, gave a concert of enormous energy and emotional impact on Feb.1 to a small audience in Weill Hall. This orchestra has been a major cultural force in Poland since 1949, playing under many renowned conductors and has been committed to pr...
Opera
EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT
by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 2020
“Beautiful, strange, and unnatural…” said orchestra conductor Thomas Conlin when speaking of the tenor voice. One of the coveted voice types of the opera world, the tenor voice is known for it’s piercing tones and soaring, unnatural high notes. The iconic image of the Pagliacci clown (in the famed...
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.