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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
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Sonoma State University Department of Music / Sunday, January 26, 2014
Trio Navarro: Jill Brindel, cello; Marilyn Thompson, piano. Carol Menke, soprano, Julie MacKenzie, flute; Victor Romasevich, violin and viola

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.