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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
Oakmont Concert Series / Thursday, July 10, 2008
TILDEN PIANO TRIO

TILDEN PIANO TRIO

TILDEN TRIO IN TOP FORM AT OAKMONT

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 10, 2008

Classical music in the North Bay has lately been blessed by a number of piano trio concerts, including Roy Bogas’ Trio (Gualala Arts Center), Eric Zivian’s Trio (Occidental Chamber Series), the Sequoia Trio from SRJC and of course the preeminent Trio Navarro from Sonoma State. The Tilden Trio, the newest kids on the block, made an auspicious entrance July 10 at Oakmont and quickly demonstrated they belong at the top of their profession.

Formed in 2004 by former Juilliard classmates, the Tilden began their concert on a hot day before 140 mostly Oakmont residents with an appropriately warm reading of the Allegretto in B-Flat of Beethoven, WoO 39. There are touches of the “Spring” Violin Sonata here, and it was an auspicious opening, almost bucolic. The instrumental blend was smooth and remained so throughout the afternoon.

Violinist Sarn Oliver introduced the second work, a piece he wrote while living in the Berkeley hills, aptly titled “Tilden Park.” Composed in 2005, the piece continued the ambiance of the Beethoven, both in the gracious unfolding of short themes and in sticking to tonality. Oliver’s violin was often in a high register, though insistent chord projections by pianist June Choi Oh moved things along when needed. There was no hurry to get anywhere with the piece, built in sections rather than movements. There are hints of Barber in “Tilden Park,” all to the good, and it received an idiomatic interpretation. Cellist Peter Wyrick was outstanding. He’s not a flamboyant instrumentalist, but he produces a perfectly poised stream of sound, rich and warm; there isn’t a dry note in his bow. As the associate principal cellist of the San Francisco Symphony, he’s a local treasure, and it would be a treat to hear him in recital.

The first half ended with the popular Ravel Trio in A Minor, written at the outset of the First World War, when the composer resided in the French Basque commune of Saint Jean de Luz. The percentage of masterpieces from Ravel’s pen is abnormally high, and the piano trio is no exception. It is an orchestral work, with rich textures and lots of coloristic effects. The first movement featured Wyrick’s expressive rubati and Oliver’s high violin line, with a wide vibrato. Much of the thematic material was reminiscent of Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite.” The movement received an elegant reading and a lovely, long ending fermata.

The Pantoum movement has tricky pizzicatos and an oriental thematic cast, and Choi Oh seemed to want a subdued sound throughout, perhaps too much so. The subdued tones continued into the Passacaile, a dignified movement with lush cello work, almost a threnody. The Tilden then jumped into the finale (Anime) with just the right blend of instrumental sparkle, especially the long trills from Oliver. The many ascending scales in the piano part could have been more distinct, but perhaps were of a piece of Choi Oh’s supportive and unassertive pianism.

Following intermission, the Tilden played the D Minor Trio by the 19th century Russian composer Anton Arensky. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a live performance of this favorite work—all the way back to Pennario, Heifetz and Piatigorsky in Los Angeles. Performers usually opt for either a smooth and fast approach (Beaux Arts Trio) or an old-fashioned, voice-leading Russian style (Borodin Trio). Happily, the Tilden opted for mostly the second rhetoric, playing the long first movement with a rich blending of the instruments, albeit with fleeting pitch problems from the violin. There is some Dvorak in this movement, more so in the ensemble rather than in the noble opening theme. Wonderful.

The Scherzo found Choi Oh providing the structure for a movement that does need clarity. The Elegia (Adagio) was sung in opulent colors by Wyrick, mostly pianissimo. In the concluding Allegro non troppo, a theme from the first movement suddenly reappears, cementing the cyclical nature inherent in much of the work. The Tilden was of one mind in this movement, and it was convincing. A student of Rimsky-Korsakov, Arensky was acknowledged to be under the influence of Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein. Rimsky-Korsakov thought his student would soon be forgotten, but the D Minor Trio, in the hands of the Tilden, belies his prediction.

A single encore was offered: Piazzola’s tango “Oblivion.” Surprisingly, this luxuriant piece has had previous Oakmont hearings, once as a chamber work and once as a piano solo. The audience, after the exuberance of the Arensky, was justifiably entranced.

The Tilden is a polished trio with a glowing, cohesive sound. With this one concert, it has vaulted into the front rank of chamber music groups appearing in the North Bay.