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Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now it seems to be on almost every...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
Chamber
TRIO NAVARRO'S POPULAR FARE IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Long time Classical Sonoma readers may recall many Trio Navarro concert reviews that lauded their virtuosity and interest in rarely played repertoire. The April 8 concert in Schroeder Hall before 85 chamber music fans featured sterling performances but had a mostly conservative menu of popular trio...
Recital
KENNER'S ALL POLISH RECITAL HAS PADEREWSKI RARITY
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Kevin Kenner’s April 8 recital at Dominican University’s Angelico Hall had been advertised as all-Chopin, but he added a detour into another seminal Polish composer-pianist, Paderewski. Several of Mr. Kenner’s teachers were Poles, he speaks Polish, and he navigated at the piano both composers’ deman...
Symphony
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE VOICE AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, April 08, 2018
In an April 8 Santa Rosa Symphony concert filled to the brim with instruments--electric violin, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard samplers, harps, piano and myriad drums, gongs and bells, to say nothing of winds, brass and strings--the instrument that came out on top was the hum...
Chamber
VOM FESTIVAL TRIO CHARMS WITH CHAMBER MIX, AND HUMMEL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 31, 2018
At the core of the group of Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) musicians is an ensemble of trios and duos, and as a trio March 31 Festival founders cellist Tanya Tomkins and pianist Eric Zivian joined British violinist Monica Huggett for a chamber music concert in the Green Music Center’s Schro...
Choral and Vocal
GOOD FRIDAY REQUIEM FILLS INCARNATION
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 30, 2018
Maurice Duruflé’s short and intense Requiem has been heard in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation before, but the March 30 Good Friday performance was stripped down in the number of performers, combining Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir with musical underpinning from organist Robert Youn...
Symphony
HAMELIN'S HUSKY MOOD IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Convention in piano recitals has the artist coming on stage and playing. Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin walked on Schroeder Hall’s stage March 25 and didn’t play for six minutes, chatting with the audience. A risk for some artists. Then most programs include a contemporary or rarely play...
Recital
VIRTUOSIC VARIATIONS IN MORGAN'S SCHROEDER ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Organist Robert Huw Morgan’s artistry spun through the web of early variation form in a Mar. 18 recital on Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh organ. Mr. Morgan, Stanford University’s resident organist, performs a wide range of repertoire, but as he said in comments to the audience, he loves when h...
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.