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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...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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.