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SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 08, 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...
Choral and Vocal
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...
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 09, 2020
The Feb. 9 performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony offered a healthy dose of 21st century music firmly bound to the 19th. Matt Browne’s first symphony, “The Course of Empire”—based on a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School of American painting in the 1820s—emp...
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 02, 2020
Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert. In his eighth conducting season with the So C...
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 01, 2020
The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, gave a concert of enormous energy and emotional impact on Feb.1 to a small audience in Weill Hall. This orchestra has been a major cultural force in Poland since 1949, playing under many renowned conductors and has been committed to pr...
EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT
by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 2020
“Beautiful, strange, and unnatural…” said orchestra conductor Thomas Conlin when speaking of the tenor voice. One of the coveted voice types of the opera world, the tenor voice is known for it’s piercing tones and soaring, unnatural high notes. The iconic image of the Pagliacci clown (in the famed...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Brave New Music / Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Catalyst Quartet. Karla Donehew-Perez and Jessie Montgomery, violin; Paul Laraia,viola; Karlos Rodeiguez, cello

Catalyst Quartet

GLASS TOWER SHINES IN CATALYST QUARTET CONCERT

by
Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A concert produced by Brave New Music and featuring the Catalyst Quartet March 18 in Healdsburg’s SHED Grange Hall was a delight from almost any standpoint, or sitting point. Unlike the first Brave New Music concert last November, this time there were no visual accompaniments (film) behind the performers, so the focus was on the music and performers. A perfect old-fashioned simplicity, even in a brave new setting.

To this reviewer, the program seemed to emerge in the SHED as a visit to a wonderfully landscaped theme park. We enter to an inviting, energetic home space that makes us love the group immediately. Jessie Montgomery's composition "Strum", born from a tuning regimen turned expressive, was the opening work, and is happy and effusive yet concentrated. It featured pizzicato (strummed) harmonies as the substrate for poignant lyrical streams, played variously by individual voices, and soaring in intensity to something almost Ravelian.

Then we moved to Glass’s Quartet No. 3, composed in 1985 for Paul Schrader's film "Mishima." Given the programmatic opportunities and drama of the story and movement titles, I was determined to like the work. But from the beginning the two against three rhythmic undertow and slippery minor harmonic shifts invited me unwillingly to the theme music for "Downton Abbey" (perhaps a credit to that series for seeking Glass-iness). It was mesmerizing and mildly foreboding without the charm of British (or Japanese) acting. Each movement was infused with its own energy and subtle patterns, delivered deftly and with clear articulation by the quartet, and occasionally reminiscent of Schubert's colorations. But I wished that for this piece there had been a film backdrop with the visceral storyboard of Mishima's life. In the concert setting it became a tribute, a tragedy embalmed in the pastels of distant remembrance, reminding me more of windshield wipers in the rain.

Then, after the intermission and out of the verdant landscape, Joan Tower’s powerful “In Memory” was heard. Composed in 2002 for the Tokyo String Quartet, it was the musical highlight of the evening. As a commission, the work was begun in memory of a personal friend, but expanded after September 11, 2001, to express the collective angst and fury around the incomprehensible American loss. The piece was first performed in February 2002 at the 92nd St. Y in New York City. Immediately the music was riveting, the dissonances welcome after the numbing swash of Glass’s minor triads.

The Catalyst performance revealed a more interesting work than the Glass, much of it in 12/8 time with beautiful and sometimes frantic chordal playing. They played it more like a Bartok Quartet, rhythmically tight with perfect string unisons and seconds that in lesser hands would have gone awry. There were also parts reminiscent of Shostakovich’s Quartets, juxtaposing anguish and reflection, nostalgic memories and desperate dreams. The ending of this marvelous work was a captivating soft unison.

Paquito D'Rivera's "Wapango," introduced by cellist Karlos Rodriquez, was a fast and furious piece that closed the concert with some scratchy col lengo effects to ruffle the audience's feathers. A genuine crowd pleaser.

The concert could happily have ended here but the Catalyst brought an encore with them, something to mellow us after all the drama and dance effects. Golijov’s "Jerusalem," the last part of the 2002 “Tenebrae,” was performed like a serene prayer. Violinist Karla Donehew-Perez played the theme elegantly, a gorgeous and contemplative ending to the concert.

Terry McNeill contributed to this review