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Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
CHAMBER REVIEW

Violinist/Violist Victor Romasevich

PUNGENT GALLIC WORKS IN WEILL CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sonoma State’s resident Trio Navarro presented an all-French program Jan. 26 but somehow the German Baroque composer Telemann’s Quartet in E Minor managed to open the concert before 150 in Weill Hall.

Featuring a flute, violin, cello and the University’s cute green harpsichord, the Telemann work from 1733 was a perky beginning, though the modern flute seemed novel after recently hearing American Bach Soloists Marin Concert that had lots of the mellower Baroque flute sound. Each of the six movements was alternatively jolly and stately, the ensemble perfect even in past passages. In places the melodic lines of the flute (Julie McKenzie), cello (Jill Rachuy Brindel) and violin (Victor Romasevich) descended and ascended in unison, only to gracefully soar apart. Trio founder Marilyn Thompson was the harpsichordist. The performance was a highlight of the evening.

Soprano Carol Menke joined Ms. Brindel and McKenzie and pianist Ms. Thompson for Ravel’s intriguing song cycle Chansons Madécasses from 1926. The performance was a sea change from the tame Telemann, as the flute often played as a drone, the cello reacquired vibrato and Ms. Thompson’s tone was always colorful and full. Ms. Menke French diction was as convincing as her command of the score’s many vocal outbursts. The quartet perfectly managed the manifold moods of this intense work: a mournful dirge, an oriental flute cadence, a piccolo beginning and mystery in the final Il est doux de se coucher part. At time Ms. Menke’s voice was covered by the other three instruments, but just as often she called forth a ringing forte note or phrase that had considerable power.

Duruflé’s lovely Prelude, Recitative and Variations (flute, viola, piano) completed the first half, another jump in texture and sound. Known in America mostly for his Requiem, the composer in less than 12 minutes wrote a beguiling piece that began enigmatically with a piano introduction and a short theme given to the violin. However, the sun came out with Ms. McKenzie’s warm and resplendent playing, the long phrases sailing into a high register and contrasting Mr. Romasevich’s rich low register viola notes. The piece was reminiscent of Ravel but more of Faure, though Ms. Thompson’s piano playing was more forceful than one usually encounters in Faure.

A short and bucolic Une flûte invisible from St. Saëns opened the second half. It was lovely lullaby for soprano, flute and piano, with echoes of St. Saëns’ late clarinet sonata. Ms. Menke sang it very well, as she did in the idiosyncratic Poulenc song cycle for soprano and piano, Fiançailles Pour Rire. Here her energetic singing captured the six-part cycle’s vacillating sections, sometimes flighty, sometimes soft, sometimes a hot-house torch song familiar to Edith Piaf fans. The piano part provided subtle harmonic endings to the last three sections.

With Dukas, Ravel must have the highest percentage of masterpieces among modern French composers (maybe all composers) and his A minor Trio that closed the program is deservedly a classic. The Navarro adopted a brisk first movement tempo with Mr. Ramasevich’s burly resonance bringing to this trio a different sound than has been heard with perennial Navarro violinist Roy Malan. And the Ravel calls for an intense reading, at times in the Animé finale there was almost chaotic music making. In the lovely but sad Passacaille Ms. Brindel and Mr. Romasevich often played close thematic lines with Ms. Thompson’s piano deftly finishing phrases. The final movement was played with zeal and potent driving rhythms, built around loud piano chords over quick violin trills. It was a decisive performance, not for the timid.

The addition of Mr. Romasevich and sterling guest musicians have continued the Navarro’s artistry, guided for so many years by Roy Malan. It is our area’s preeminent chamber music ensemble.