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Chamber
KODALY DUO TRUMPS POPULAR MENDELSSOHN TRIO AT SLV CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
It’s not really a secret, but Sonoma County’s best chamber music series is one without much notoriety or publicity. The concerts at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village programs are only for residents and a few invited guests. Impresario Robert Hayden years ago honed his producer skills as founder of ...
Recital
DEMANDING VIOLIN SONATAS CONQUERED BY BEILMAN-WEISS DUO IN SCHROEDER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Violinist Benjamin Beilman’s ravishing Mozart performance at last summer’s Weill Hall ChamberFest finale lured an enthusiastic crowd to Schroeder Hall May 14 to hear if his secure virtuosity was up to a program of demanding sonatas. He did not disappoint. With the powerful pianist Orion Weiss in t...
Symphony
SOVIETS INVADE WEILL HALL, TAKE NO PRISONERS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 07, 2017
Bruno Ferrandis may be French, but he excels in Soviet repertoire. His Slavonic expertise was more than amply demonstrated at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s May 7 concert, where the program began joyfully with Khachaturian’s ballet suite from “Masquerade,” surged forward with Prokofiev’s second violin co...
Recital
MASTERFUL PIANISM IN GOODE'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, May 05, 2017
Pianist Richard Goode programmed an evening of treasures May 5 from four great composers, and is an artist of intimacy and intelligence, power and passion, able to go deep and to soar. Hearing Mr. Goode play this literature was a reminder of how music does indeed bridge worlds and time. Bach’s E m...
Recital
ELEGANT ORGAN SALUTE TO THE REFORMATION
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Organist Jonathan Dimmock presented an April 30 recital in homage to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, playing Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh instrument. Mr. Dimmock is the organist for the San Francisco Symphony, principal organist for the Palace of the Legion of Honor and teaches at...
Chamber
NOTES AND BARS DO NOT A PRISON MAKE
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, April 29, 2017
The Hermitage Piano Trio brought exuberant musicality and sumptuous sound to a packed house April 29 in Occidental's Performing Arts Center for the last concert in the Redwood Arts Council’s 37th season. With a wide interpretive range--from lush to delicate to passionate--these three young Russian v...
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...
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.