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Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
CHAMBER REVIEW

Sonoma State University's Trio Navarro

BRIDGE AND TURINA WORKS SPARKLE IN TRIO NAVARRO CONCERT AT SSU

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 6, 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.