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Recital
HOME RECITAL BACH COMPLETES HOLIDAY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 30, 2017
The just closing 2017 year was a calamity for many, but locally in music there were joys galore, and it was fitting Dec. 30 have the balm of two Bach’s violin sonatas in a private Guerneville home recital hosted by the eminent musician Sonia Tubridy. Violinist Richard Heinberg joined Ms. Tubridy in...
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 WITH 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 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.