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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
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.