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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
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.