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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 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
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Sonoma State University Department of Music / Sunday, November 24, 2013
Trio Navarro: Roy Malan, violin; Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello; Marilyn Thompson, piano; Nancy Ellis, viola; Victor Romasevich, violin

(l to r) Ellis, Thompson, Brindel and Romasevich Backstage in Weill

DISCOVERY ANEW FOR THE NAVARRO TRIO IN WEILL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 24, 2013

A major part of the Trio Navarro’s approach to chamber music has been discovery, as over many years they have explored novel (if not new or radical) corners of the small ensemble repertoire. November 24’s concert in Weill Hall was no exception as an unfamiliar piano quartet and trio were the evening’s most intriguing offerings.

Georgy Catoire’s lively and atmospheric A Minor Quartet opened the concert, and the Trio’s Victor Romasevich (violin), cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel and Marilyn Thompson (piano) were joined by violist Nancy Ellis. A frequent past guest, Ms. Ellis seamlessly blended with her colleagues in the unique fabric of Catoire’s music. The hothouse character of the quasi Wagner and late romantic score was in the first movement constantly reminiscent of Schoenberg’s orchestrated version of the tone poem Verklärte Nacht from 1917. This is surging and sexy music.

As in recent Navarro concerts Mr. Romasevich sat in for perennial stalwart Roy Malan, and elicited a different high string sound. His tone throughout the Catoire is not as wide and vibrato-laden as from Mr. Malan, but has a penetrating quality that easily stood out from the two lower string instruments. He also didn’t take several phrase-opening notes cleanly but as the work moved into the final Allegro he was sure-footed and sonorous. The ending gave hints of Ravel’s music and the unexpected tempo acceleration brought the 1916 piece to a ringing if not loud conclusion.

Mr. Romasevich was again in the forefront of a performance of Josif Andriasov’s C Minor Trio, Op. 7, as he had been a student of the composer and is a champion of Andriasov’s music. In quirky ways the 1957 Trio was aligned with some of the Catoire Quintet harmonies, although the Trio is a darker and more compelling work. In the first Allegro movement the ensemble playing was admirable, the violin line soaring often into the highest register even during several bucolic sections. The second movement had references to Shostakovich and Mieczyslaw Weinberg and was idiomatically played, as were the slow march motives of the finale.

Both the Catoire and Andriasov works demand of the listener an acceptance of a string and piano fabric of sound rarely encountered, and might not be to everyone’s taste. I found all the music persuasive and energetically performed.

No such lack of aquaintence came with the concluding work, Schumann E-Flat Major Quartet, Op. 47. The tempos throughout the four-movement piece from 1842 were judicious and Ms. Thompson’s deft playing captured Schumann’s bittersweet melancholy. The dynamic Scherzo featured some of the best string playing of the concert, the violin notes carrying to the back of the sparsely-attended hall and Ms. Brindel’s cello line was opulent. In the Andante’s “heart on sleeve” principal theme Ms. Ellis carried on fetching duos with Ms. Brindel and Mr. Romasevich, and the slow counterpoint was beguiling. There was no rush to get anywhere and the four musicians were comfortable giving each of their colleagues a turn at voice leading.

The Vivace finale was played without undue hurry but with Ms. Thompson forging ahead several feverant climaxes were built and the Quartet’s conclusion was decisive