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Chamber
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six song...
Symphony
ALEXANDER TORADZE DELIVERS A LESSON IN SERENITY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 05, 2019
An entire concerto movement consisting of serene piano melodies over a soothing backdrop is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when seeing Shostakovich’s name on an orchestra program, but that’s exactly what pianist Alexander Toradze delivered--twice--at Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony c...
Symphony
MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON CLOSES WITH AUTUMNAL ELGAR AND THEATRICAL BEETHOVEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Mozart’s enchanting Overture to his opera The Magic Flute, a miniature tapestry of gems from the 1791 work, opened the Marin Symphony’s final concert of the 2018-2019 season. Under conductor Alasdair Neale, the playing of the sprightly seven-minute piece by a reduced-size classical ensemble sparkled...
Recital
SHAHAM-EGUCHI DUO'S EXCITING MUSICAL GENEROSITY IN WEILL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, April 26, 2019
Violinist Gil Shaham may be the most modest virtuoso on the concert stage today, and it is the great music he most wishes to put forward, never himself. Generosity, a quality he is known for, was abundantly clear in Weill Hall April 26 when he performed, with pianist Akira Eguchi, a generous program...
Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
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.