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Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Trio Navarro / Sunday, February 28, 2010
Roy Malan, violin; Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello; Kumarin Arul, piano

Roy Malan and Kumaran Arul

TRIO NAVARRO WITHOUT THE O

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 28, 2010

In a sharp change from past concerts, the Trio Navarro gave an abbreviated program Feb. 28 in Sonoma State University’s Ives Hall, reflecting a temporary substitution in personnel. Marilyn Thompson, the Trio’s founding pianist, was absent due to pending shoulder surgery, and the anticipated trios of Cassadó and Catoire could not be managed in the available rehearsal time. What was presented was a blend of some familiar works and something quite rare.

Joining violinist Roy Malan and cellist Jill Rachuy Brindell was Stanford University faculty artist Kumaran Arul. Mr. Arul is no stranger to Sonoma County, having played recently on the Absolute Music Series. More importantly, he paired with Mr. Malan at last summer’s Mendocino Music Festival in the Dvorak Sonatina and the Grieg C Minor Sonata. These works, with Ms. Brindell acting as page turner, constituted the first half.

Once called a “student work,” the G Major Sonatina, Op. 100, reflects American Indian and African-American influences from the Czech composer’s 1893 stay in Spillville, Iowa. The opening had the requisite joy and Dvorak phrasing, and the following Larghetto was a lovely lyrical lament with Mr. Arul’s control of pianissimo faultless and Mr. Malan’s double stops precise. The third movement, seemingly a village dance, found the two instruments in “question and answer” phrasing, with the piano often covering the violin. The final Allegro was a rollicking dance with syncopated rhythms, bursting with themes unique to Dvorak. The lyrical middle part was reminiscent of Hollywood movie scores, ending with the violin secure at the top of its register.

Grieg’s great Violin Sonata, Op. 45, is a stern test for musicians. The Sonoma State performance was similar to the reading of last July, the main theme appearing as a lovely duo. A few notes were changed by Mr. Arul during his first statement of the grand theme, but the balances were good, and the coda was powerful and thrilling. The Romanza second movement is one of the composer’s most inspired creations, and Mr. Malan was totally at home in the lyricism. He played the descending passage at the end with wide vibrato, then an ascending phrase which leads up to an E natural, two octaves above the open E string. Here, unlike the performance on the Coast, he took almost no vibrato, as a harmonic. The audience was in breathless silence.

Mr. Malan dug deep in the finale, taking the downward second theme quite slowly to a rich tenor area with a wide vibrato. Here the piano covered much of the string sound, not stemming from any lack of effective pianism but presumably due to the room’s acoustics and linoleum tile floor surface. The ending had great impact and a complete unity of artistry.

Praise for the Grieg aside, the musical highlight for this reviewer was five of Bruch’s Eight Pieces for Piano and Two Instruments. The two instruments have included the violin, viola, clarinet and cello, and of course here Ms. Brindell joined Mr. Malan and Mr. Arul in a cogent and committed performance. Three of the pieces are lyrical, but in a somber and sad way, songful but tending towards nostalgia. Even the third work, at a fast tempo, had the same compositional nature. The addition of the rich cello line, always forward in Ives Hall, blended well with the piano. The fourth was an individual favorite, Mr. Malan’s violin singing phrases in a high register over handfuls of arpeggios from the piano, and ultimately unison cello and violin lines combining beautifully.

The Bruch doesn’t allow easy identification. There are short bits of Brahms, but the language is different enough to defy a tie-in with another composer. I would enjoy hearing the complete set in whatever form the Trio Navarro chooses.