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Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Symphony
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
Recital
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpour’s March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
Recital
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
Chamber
CONSUMMATE ENSEMBLE FROM THE MIRÓ IN WEILL
by Sonia Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Sunday, March 05, 2017
A March 5 Weill hall audience of 350 leaned in to share an intimate musical space and to hear the Miró String Quartet’s sterling concert. Starting with Haydn's Op. 20, No. 4, the four musicians seemed to want listeners to be enveloped in their music. The Miró plays with the feat of being four dist...
Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
Chamber
MUSIC AND ART MELD IN ZUCKERMAN TRIO CONCERT
by Nicki Bell
Friday, February 24, 2017
A Feb. 24 Weill Hall concert by the Pinchas Zuckerman Trio juxtaposed formidable music making with palpable associations about visual art. Brahms’ C Minor "Sonatensatz” (Scherzo) is a short youthful work for violin and piano, and was an opening call to action. Lively and vigorous playing alternated...
Chamber
THREE BEETHOVEN TRIOS BEGUILE AUDIENCE IN FEB. 19 WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Chamber music concerts featuring one composer can be tricky, but the Han/Setzer/Finckel trio made a Feb. 19 Weill Hall audience of 500 hear and to a degree see the boundless creativity of Beethoven. The G Major Trio, Op. 1, No. 2, opened the afternoon’s Beethoven odyssey and one wonders why it is t...
Chamber
AUTHORITATIVE BARTOK HIGHLIGHTS TETZLAFF VIOLIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Christian Tetzlaff’s Feb. 18 violin recital rolled along with lively and fresh readings of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert when the specter of Bartok’s granitic Second Sonata intervened. The sonic shock to the audience of 250 in Weill was palpable. Composed in 1923 the 20-minute two-movement work i...
Symphony
WHAT SOUND DO STAR-CROSSED LOVERS MAKE?
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so the Santa Rosa Symphony feted the occasion by telling and retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet, a tale ever the more poignant during our era of stark divisions. The first telling was from Berlioz; the second from Prokofiev. In between was Brahms’ monu...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Trio Navarro / Sunday, February 03, 2013
Marilyn Thompson, piano; Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello; Roy Malan, violin.

Trio Navarro

FROM THE MAGISTERIAL TO THE MACABRE

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 03, 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.