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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 ...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Oakmont Concert Series / Thursday, August 12, 2010
Lincoln Piano Trio

Chicago's Lincoln Trio Playing Beethoven

A DRAMATIC THIRD TIME FOR THE LINCOLN AT OAKMONT

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, August 12, 2010

Beginning the fall chamber music season August 12 in Oakmont, Chicago’s Lincoln Trio played a disparate and demanding program with consummate artistry before 200 in Berger Auditorium.
But it was not the previously announced program, as the group, in their third appearance on the Oakmont Concert Series, dropped the Trio by contemporary composer Lara Auerbach, and began the first half with Bloch’s Three Nocturnes for Trio, written in 1924.

But no matter, as the playing of the tightly-knit Bloch work, each piece well under three minutes, was memorable. Using mutes throughout, the somber and elegiac First Nocturne spotlighted the Lincoln’s exact sonic balance. The bucolic and lyrical Second Nocturne was indeed a seductive night piece, and moved easily to the finale, an initial whirlwind of nocturnal sound leading to a contemplative ending. Clearly the audience was in for an afternoon of first-cabin chamber music.

Beethoven’s early Trio in B-Flat Major, Op. 11, closed the first half, and received a high-energy reading from the first frantic opening chords. Pianist Marta Aznavoorian’s upward-bound scales were always crystalline, the passages a proverbial string of pearls, and she traded themes in the opening Allegro con Brio with cellist David Cunliffe. The cello opens the lovely Adagio and Mr. Cunliffe used subtle ritards and chaste phrasing in the noble melody to great effect. A slow descending run in the piano ended a glorious movement.

The 1797 composition is subtitled “Gassenhauer” because of a street song used in the concluding Allegretto, and is a theme with variations. The Lincoln’s playing established (if such a thing was needed) that the Bonn master was the most adept writer ever of the variation form, and the music unfolded effortlessly and with precise instrumental attacks and faultless string pitch.

The second part was devoted almost entirely to Smetana’s big G Minor Trio, Op. 15. There is plenty of Schumann here, and more than a little Liszt, and the work is sprawling and in less virtuosic hands can lack cohesion. The Lincoln Trio nailed it, synchronizing their bowings and phrase endings as one instrument. It opens with a Moderato assai violin solo, fetchingly played by Desirée Ruhstrat, and Ms. Ruhstrat’s top notes were beams of light all afternoon. As I remember from the last Lincoln performance in Berger, she doesn’t seek a strong leadership role, wide vibrato or a big tone. But as one musician said, it was “big enough.” The piano occasionally covered the other instruments, Ms. Aznavoorian’s virtuosity in flood tide.

The middle movement is a mix of Czech folk songs and has echoes of Brahms, with a curious ending, still in the Allegro man non agitato tempo marking. Speed and power dominated the finale, Brahmsian in depth and recalling the angst of his Op. 60 Piano Quartet, written 20 years later than the Smetana. Was a debt due to this Czech composer, and not to a favorite of Brahms, Dvorak? It was a soaring, joyous and surprising succinct performance, the ersatz funeral march stated with panache, and generated a standing ovation even though one more work remained to be played.

Brahms returned to complete the program, in a transcription of his Hungarian Dance No. 1. The 21 Dances are heard in all sorts of orchestrations and small-group versions, stemming from the original for two-piano, and received a performance of singular rhythmic drive and Magyar spice. Visions of old Vienna (and Budapest) were in the air.

One encore was offered, a Piazzola tango. Piazzola’s work is undergoing broad interest these days, often as encores, and there have been several of the tangos played recently at Oakmont by Gila Goldstein and Gustavo Romero. But here, as throughout this superb recital, the Lincoln showed their fastidious attention to ensemble and integrated sound. The whole was indeed greater than the sum of the parts.

Impresario Robert Hayden contributed to this review.