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Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
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.