Home  Reviews  Articles  Calendar  Presenters  Add Event     
Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Saturday, August 10, 2013
Piano Sonoma. Jessica Chow Shinn and Michael Shinn, piano; Mary Edge, violin; Kin Mai Nguyen, viola; Julian Schwartz, cello; Eric Lamm, bass viol

Pianist Jessica Chow Shinn

WEILL HALL CONCERT ENDS PIANO FESTIVAL AT SONOMA STATE

by Kenn Gartner
Saturday, August 10, 2013

The group PianoSonoma presented a short program at Weill Hall August 10 for an audience of 330, part of a summer festival at Sonoma State University. This group consisted of violinist Mary Edge, violist Kim Mai Nguyen, cellist Julian Schwarz and bassist Eric Lamm. They were joined on stage by pianists Jessica Chow Shinn and Michael Shinn, artistic directors of this festival. The Shinns are faculty members at The Juilliard School of Music and the two fiddlers had just received Masters Degrees from the same school.

An acoustic point came to mind as this was the second time I had heard a concert with violin solos in Weill. I felt again that the hall does not sustain violin sound the way it sustains piano and orchestra and cabaret, all of which I have heard here.
Brahms’ C Minor Piano Quartet, Op. 60, was the first work performed. Again, while the violinist was definitely doing her job, the acoustics in the hall did not support the instrument. This work comes with a beautiful third Andante movement and throughout the two first and the last movements pianist Michael Shinn often overpowered the three strings with his sound. Only in some softer passages did he obtain a better tone quality and I distinctly felt technique won over musicianship. The audience, however, applauded each movement.

Johan Halvorsen’s Passacaglia in G Minor for Violin and Viola was a virtuoso tour de force for these two fiddlers. Again, while the Weill did not support the string sound well, nearly every possible string technique was used by both musicians in the performance: spiccato, martellato, harmonics, etc. Halvorsen, a Norwegian composer who married Grieg’s niece, wrote in 1897 this wonderful romp for two virtuosi, based on a theme from Handel’s Harpsichord Suite in G minor, HWV 432.

Following Intermission, two concert pianos were on stage, the second sporting a bass drum near its pedals. They were to be used by the Shinns in a two piano presentation of a new (2013) work, “Bounce,” by Adam Schoenberg, and it was written to commemorate the imminent birth of his first child. It was announced to the audience that Mrs. Schoenberg was presently in labor! Both the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Aspen Music Festival commissioned the orchestral version of this work. The overall layout of “Bounce” is a basic ABA format with lots of fast pianism. From time to time, Mrs. Shinn would rap the bass drum, which caused the audience to titter. It was almost a long improvisation, with a great deal of rapid soft and loud passages. Mr. Schoenberg’s compositional origins come from the improvisatory region, so it was no surprise the work would be improvisational in design. I think the orchestral version will sound more interesting. But I think it a great piece to welcome a new baby into the world.

The evening’s next work was the Fourth Movement from Schubert’s Piano Quintet in A Major, the “Trout,” and the Yamaha piano sounded wonderful in the ensemble! Ms. Shinn produced bell-like tonal qualities with her performance.

In the cleanup spot were the bass and cello performing the incredible Duet in D Major for Cello and Double Bass, composed by Rossini in 1824. The applause after every movement was absolutely viable and deserved. The two players performed at the top of their game and created a wonderful performance experience. In this early work bass part is easier than it sounds, and thus players often add stuff to sound as virtuosic as the cello. I did not notice any “beefing up” of the bass part.