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Recital
SCHUMANN AND BARTOK HIGHLIGHT BRONFMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Lee Ormasa
Friday, April 21, 2017
Those people once addicted to the “Angry Birds” game application likely suffered an auditory flashback during the opening measures of the allegro from Bartok’s Suite, Op. 14, the opening work in Yefim Bronfman’s April 21 recital at Weill Hall. The repetitive opening figures of the Bartok were...
Symphony
HULKING MAHLER "TITAN" AT SO CO PHIL'S SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 08, 2017
A composer’s first symphony rarely gives a clear indication of what beautiful complexities will follow over the years. Early Mozart and Tchaikovsky are examples, and the big exceptions to this axiom are the “firsts” of Beethoven, Shostakovich and Mahler. Tackling Mahler ‘s D Major Symphony (No. 1,...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY STAYS CLOSE TO HOME
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Santa Rosa Symphony concerts usually feature high-powered soloists imported from afar, but for their recent “Bring on the Strings” concert set, they stuck close to home, thrusting their principal violin, viola and cello into the limelight. The violinist (Joseph Edelberg) and the violist (Elizabeth P...
Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Symphony
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
Recital
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpour’s March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
Recital
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
Chamber
CONSUMMATE ENSEMBLE FROM THE MIRÓ IN WEILL
by Sonia Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Sunday, March 05, 2017
A March 5 Weill hall audience of 350 leaned in to share an intimate musical space and to hear the Miró String Quartet’s sterling concert. Starting with Haydn's Op. 20, No. 4, the four musicians seemed to want listeners to be enveloped in their music. The Miró plays with the feat of being four dist...
Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
Chamber
MUSIC AND ART MELD IN ZUCKERMAN TRIO CONCERT
by Nicki Bell
Friday, February 24, 2017
A Feb. 24 Weill Hall concert by the Pinchas Zuckerman Trio juxtaposed formidable music making with palpable associations about visual art. Brahms’ C Minor "Sonatensatz” (Scherzo) is a short youthful work for violin and piano, and was an opening call to action. Lively and vigorous playing alternated...
CHAMBER REVIEW
American Philharmonic, Sonoma County / Friday, January 14, 2011
"I Solisti di Sonoma": Marilyn Thompson, piano; Ross Ipsen, violin; Pam Otsuka, viola; Margaret Moores, cello

I Solisti di Sonoma Playing Beethoven's Trio Jan. 14 in Healdsburg

I SOLISTI DI SONOMA BEGINS THREE-CONCERT SERIES TO BENEFIT APSC IN HEALDSBURG CHURCH

by Terry McNeill
Friday, January 14, 2011

Chamber music was launched in grand style for the 2011 year Jan. 14 when the American Philharmonic Sonoma County presented the first of three small group concerts featuring artists associated with the APSC.

Designed as a fund raiser to cover costs incurred from the historic tour to China, the concert at the Healdsburg Community Church preceded events at Santa Rosa’s Glaser Center and the charming Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma. The performers, named “I Solisti di Sonoma,” donated their artistry and gave a small audience of 23 a rich program, albeit from ever-popular composers.

Beethoven’s Piano Trio in E-Flat Major, Op. 1, opened the program with pianist Marilyn Thompson’s pearly scales taking charge. The piece, from 1793, gets away from the keyboard-dominant trios of Haydn and Mozart and in the acoustically dead church space Margaret Moores’ cello carried all evening with a rich sonority. The long Allegro found violinist Pam Otsuka wrestling with pitch problems and a thin tone that settled down in the Adagio cantabile, highlighted by soft Alberti bass figures in the piano and ending in two lovely string pizzicato chords and two soft answering chords from Ms. Thompson.

The concluding lilting Scherzo and Presto finale unfolded smoothly, the Presto chords from the piano on the octave seeming to signal the quick tempo and instrumental interplay. Ensemble here was the best of the evening.

Prior to Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro for Cello and Piano, Op, 70, APSC Board Chair Brian Lloyd announced the dates of the forthcoming concerts and related stories of the historic APSC tour of China that ended Jan. 6. Mr. Lloyd, a cellist, then discussed the role of his instrument in the lives of the Schumanns and Brahms, and speculated that Brahms may have written (like Robert Schumann) a cello concerto, but destroyed it.

Ms. Moores (playing from score) and Ms. Thompson gave an ardent reading of the ten-minute Schumann work from 1849, a piece heard often with the French horn. Here again the cello carried well, the tempos judicious and the ritards in the Adagio broad and never breaking the musical line. The rondo form Allegro had lots of breathing room and the cellist lacked clarity and coordination with the piano only when fast articulation was needed on the fingerboard.

The program concluded with Brahms’ Sonata for Cello in E Minor, Op. 38, written in 1865. In the noble opening theme the low frequencies of the cello were opulent, sporadically overcoming the sound from a less-than-professional church piano. It’s not often that the cello outguns the piano and a virtuoso such as Ms. Thompson, and this imbalance also happened during the closing E Minor movement. The dance-like rhythms of the Allegretto quasi Menuetto were played with gusto, and during each movement Ms. Moores’ pitch was dead on, and the deep note in the cello ending the first movement was haunting.

Additional “I Solisti di Sonoma” concerts are planned for the spring season.