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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...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
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.