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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
Trio Navarro / Sunday, November 06, 2011
Trio Navarro: Roy Malan, violin; Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello; Marilyn Thompson, piano

Sonoma State University's Trio Navarro

BRIDGE AND TURINA WORKS SPARKLE IN TRIO NAVARRO CONCERT AT SSU

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 06, 2011

An old musical friend was juxtaposed with two not-quite-so-old interlopers Nov. 6 when the venerable Trio Navarro opened their 2011-2012 season at Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center 1028. Mendelssohn’s iconic D Minor Trio was the old shoe and Trios by Bridge and Turina were the unfamiliar fare.

In a surprise program alignment the rarely-played Bridge C Minor Fantasie Trio and Turina’s Op. 35 Trio comprised the long second half, and both works are episodic and difficult to get to know in a single hearing. The Turina, from 1926 and written in a style that combines Spanish elements with arguably early 20th Century French style, received a strong performance led at the outset by violinist Roy Malan’s penetrating high register. The rhapsodic nature changed quickly in the following Theme and (5) Variations to a more somber tone. Mr. Malan alternated bright pizzicato phrases with cellist Jill Brindel, combined with intriguing rhythmic syncopations. Pianist Marilyn Thompson deftly played the jazz-influenced Basque dance (zortziko) in the third variation, the obverse to the murmuring pianissimo ending in the strings.

The Trio attached the concluding movement aggressively, the piano part marching up and down the keyboard and heralding themes from the preceding movements.

Bridge’s first Trio (Fantasie) dates from 1908 and is in a single movement. The Navarro’s quick and impulsive opening set the stage for the rich but often darkly-tines melodic lines from the cello and violin, the specter of Faure not far away. The ensemble was particularly good in the swirl of notes, Ms. Thompson pushing the pace. The noble second theme was elegantly played by Ms. Brindel with a broad vibrato and subtle ritards are phrase endings. On either side of the beguiling central Andante the performance sparkled and often surged. It was music in a performance that was optimistic when compared to the intricate Turina.

The concert began with the first Mendelssohn Trio, Op. 49, perhaps the most played work now before the public for this combination of instruments. The performance was dedicated by Ms. Brindel to the memory of her mother who had died the previous day. In the opening Molto allegro ed agitato with its extended patrician cello solo the chosen approach was slow and lyrical, lacking the usual speed and snap that characterizes much of the music. Mr. Malan’s tone and projection, soaring during the Turina and Bridge, was here often covered by Ms. Brindel in a venue that seems to love low frequencies. Ms. Thompson, a consummate chamber music pianist, chose clarity over drama and never covered her partners. It was playing of refinement and proportion but lacked energy.

In the lyrical Andante the tempo was again relaxed with subtle voice leading from the pianist and cellist, and Ms. Thompson varying the character of the repeats with discerning dynamic changes. The charming Scherzo, always a crowd pleaser, found Mr. Malan making small portamento to lovely effect. In the concluding rondo (Allegro) Ms. Brindel dug deep, projecting a bass line to compliment the galloping scales from the pianist. Missing in the sonic balance were some of the sforzando outbursts, especially from the piano part, that add spice and make this revered work feel like a welcome acquaintance.

Mention needs to be made of the room's piano, celebrating its 100th birthday and a favorite instrument of Ms. Thompson. There is captivating music coming in the piano’s next century, and plenty of life in the old girl yet.