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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
Sonoma Classical Music Society / Saturday, January 05, 2013
Nigel Armstrong, violin. Elizabeth Dorman, piano

Nigel Armstrong and Elizabeth Dorman Jan. 5

NATIVE VIRTUOSITY

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 05, 2013

Violinist Nigel Armstrong is becoming a virtuoso staple for North Bay concerts, having played locally over the past three years in private homes, with symphonic groups and in several formal recitals. January 5 found him giving a benefit recital for the Sonoma Classical Music Society in his Sonoma hometown in the west side Kenny residence. It was an exceptional afternoon of music making.

With pianist Elizabeth Dorman, Mr. Armstrong opened with Beethoven’s Romance in G Major, a 10-minute work usually heard with orchestra. The piano reduction worked well, and Ms. Dorman was attentive to the soloist’s suave melodic line, carefully matching a lovely ascending and descending violin line at the midpoint.

The afternoon’s chief work was Schumann’s A Minor Sonata, Op. 105, a surging romantic piece from 1851 that Mr. Armstrong was playing for the first time in public. The warm partnership of the Beethoven Romance continued throughout this restless Sonata. The many modulations in the opening movement (“with passionate expression”) were deftly highlighted by the violinist, and his vibrato was wide and often pulsating. The short intermezzo was well played, ending in a soft series of pizzicato violin notes coupled with expressive, almost somber chords from the piano. Schumann’s restless energy burst forth in the finale. The duo performed the sudden dynamic contrasts pungently, and the rush to a tragic end moved the audience of 50 to loud applause.

Two movements from Bach’s solo Third Sonata (BWV 1005) began the second half. Mr. Armstrong played the opening Adagio soulfully and the long three-part fugue masterfully. A Bach work for solo piano came next, the popular B Flat Partita (BWV 825) with seven brief movements. Ms. Dorman’s committed playing was often too loud, and in the flowing first movement arabesques her rhythms were unstable. She does enjoy extravagant ornamentation on repeats but has yet to acquire much color in her playing.

Ending the recital were Brahms’ Hungarian Dances Four and Five in the Joachim arrangements. Every bit of these virtuosic and gypsy-like compositions was played with soaring vitality by Mr. Armstrong. He often leaned down to his pianist to underscore a phase, beginning with a nod or a wave of his fleet bow tip. The double and sporadic triple stops were faultless.

As an encore treat for violin buffs, Mr. Armstrong played Ernst’s “Variations on The Last Rose of Summer,” the sixth of his Polyphonic Etudes from the 1860s. Curiously, the final two variations and finale were omitted. But no matter, what Mr. Armstrong played was coin of the fiddler’s realm and uniquely thrilling.

The Sonoma Classical Music Society’s spring season of three more concerts can be seen at www.sonomaclassical.org.

Bronislaw Irving contributed to this review