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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...
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...
Symphony
PEACE AND LOVE FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 04, 2018
Before the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 4 performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” Symphony CEO Alan Silow took a moment to acknowledge the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack and to observe that music offers a more peaceful and loving view of the world. Mr. ...
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.