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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
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.