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Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
Chamber
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Recital
GLOVER'S ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHT'S CINNABAR RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Daniel Glover is arguably the busiest virtuoso pianist in the San Francisco Bay area, but rarely is heard in North Bay concerts. So 90 local pianophiles were anxious to hear him Feb. 17 in Petaluma’s charming small Cinnabar Theater, and they were rewarded with an eclectic program of sometimes unfam...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
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.