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Chamber
EXTRAVAGANT FUSION OF STYLES AT CHRIS BOTTI BAND WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Jerry Dibble
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Trumpeter Chris Botti still performs in jazz venues including SF Jazz and The Blue Note, but now appears mostly in cavernous halls or on outdoor stages like the Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center. He brought his unique road show to the packed Weill Hall August 12 in a concert of effusive e...
Chamber
SCHUBERT "MIT SCHLAG" AT VOM FESTIVAL MORNING CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
The spirit of 19th century Vienna was present July 29 on the final day of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival in the second half of July glittered with innovative programming and the new, old sound of original instruments played by musicians who love music with historic instruments. ...
Chamber
PASSIONATE BRAHMS-SCHOENBERG MUSIC CLOSES VOM FESTIVAL SUMMER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
An extraordinary program of chamber music by Brahms and Schoenberg attracted a capacity crowd to the Valley of the Moon Music Festival’s final concert July 29th in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. It opened with a richly expressive reading by Festival Laureate violinist Rachell Wong and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur...
Chamber
PRAGUE AND VIENNA PALACE GEMS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 28, 2018
The remarkable Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented a concert called “Kinsky Palace” July 28 on their final Festival weekend in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. Two well-known treasures and one lesser gem were programmed. Starting the afternoon offerings were violinist Monica Huggett and Fest...
Chamber
INNOVATIVE CHAMBER WORKS IN HANNA CENTER CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, July 22, 2018
The Valley of the Moon Music Festival presented a July 22 concert featuring three giants: Haydn, Schubert and Schumann, composers who altered music of their time with creative innovations and artistic vision. In the fourth season the Festival’s theme this year is “Vienna in Transition”, and VOM Fes...
Chamber
VIENNA INSPIRATION FOR VOM FESTIVAL PROGRAM AT HANNA CENTER
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, July 21, 2018
A music-loving audience filled Sonoma’s Hanna Center Auditorium July 21 to begin a record weekend of three concerts, produced by the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival’s theme this summer is “Venice in Transition – From the Enlightenment to the Dawn of Modernism” Prior to Saturday’s m...
Chamber
VANHAL QUARTET AT VOM FESTIVAL DISCOVERY AT HANNA CENTER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 15, 2018
A near-capacity crowd of 220 filled the Sonoma Hanna Boys Center Auditorium July 15 for the opening concert of the fourth Valley of the Moon Music Festival. This Festival presents gems of the Classical and early Romantic periods performed on instruments of the composer’s era, which presents a few ch...
Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
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 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.