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Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
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...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Trio Navarro / Sunday, February 3, 2013
Marilyn Thompson, piano; Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello; Roy Malan, violin.

Trio Navarro

FROM THE MAGISTERIAL TO THE MACABRE

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 3, 2013

Two more disparate chamber works could not be imagined in Weill Hall Feb. 3 when the Trio Navarro presented the Shostakovich Trio in E Minor and Dvorak’s “Dumky,” also in E minor. Both masterpieces have riveting audience interest but are worlds apart in structure and harmonic language.

Dvorak’s trio, popular since its premiere in 1891, received a committed and generous reading from the Navarro. The muddy acoustics of the Nov. 18 Schumann Quintet performance by the Navarro Chamber players had vanished, replaced by a direct Weill sound, albeit with a long reverb time due to the tiny audience. There was generous melodic interplay in the opening Lento Maestoso, and the Trio caught the nostalgia of the C-Sharp Minor Adagio. Violinist Roy Malan played here with a wide vibrato and suitable folk rhythms. His double stops at the movement’s end were luxuriant.

The lovely Andante third movement seems to be old hat to this estimable Trio, and they played with a warm sound to let the inherent lyricism shine. In the following two movements, the Trio’s insistent stress on instrumental balance, even in the swirl of dissonances (yes, dissonances in Dvorak, seconds and thirds), was exceptionally rewarding. Jill Brindel’s cello parts in the fifth movement had long sections, sans rubato, where the sound comes low on the fingerboard with unstopped strings. Pianist Marilyn Thompson played off these phrases and carried the Navarro into a magisterial finale that alternated between yearning and wild gaiety. It was a reading of stable nobility and vitality.

Following intermission, the disturbing Shostakovich Trio No. 2, Op. 67, completed the concert. Ms. Brindel played the opening disquieting cello line harmonics with ardor, though not note perfect. All through this demanding 1944 work, the frequent high tessitura of the violin and cello, contrasting with Ms. Thompson tolling deep bass notes and chords, produced a spiritual and at times menacing sonic tapestry. In many sections the Navarro underplayed the overall drama, concentrating on the relentless drive of the music. The second movement Allegro had echoes of the earlier Shostakovich Quintet in G (Op. 57). The somber orchestral piano chords in the third movement (Largo) began a slow march, almost a threnody, and Mr. Malan’s violin playing bordered on the funereal. It was a lament played with care and conviction.

The finale was portrayed by the Navarro as a macabre dance, with frequent cello and violin pizzicato, and an ethereal pianissimo conclusion. There was no thought of an encore, as the great Russian composer’s sorrowful musical outcry was moving to the degree that verbal or instrumental bonbons would be paltry fare.

On balance this was the most stirring chamber music concert I have yet heard in Weill, and there is no reason to change my nearly decade-old pronouncement that the Navarro is the finest piano trio before the public in Northern California.