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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...
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...
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.