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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
TRIO NAVARRO'S POPULAR FARE IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Long time Classical Sonoma readers may recall many Trio Navarro concert reviews that lauded their virtuosity and interest in rarely played repertoire. The April 8 concert in Schroeder Hall before 85 chamber music fans featured sterling performances but had a mostly conservative menu of popular trio...
Recital
KENNER'S ALL POLISH RECITAL HAS PADEREWSKI RARITY
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Kevin Kenner’s April 8 recital at Dominican University’s Angelico Hall had been advertised as all-Chopin, but he added a detour into another seminal Polish composer-pianist, Paderewski. Several of Mr. Kenner’s teachers were Poles, he speaks Polish, and he navigated at the piano both composers’ deman...
Symphony
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE VOICE AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, April 08, 2018
In an April 8 Santa Rosa Symphony concert filled to the brim with instruments--electric violin, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard samplers, harps, piano and myriad drums, gongs and bells, to say nothing of winds, brass and strings--the instrument that came out on top was the hum...
Chamber
VOM FESTIVAL TRIO CHARMS WITH CHAMBER MIX, AND HUMMEL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 31, 2018
At the core of the group of Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) musicians is an ensemble of trios and duos, and as a trio March 31 Festival founders cellist Tanya Tomkins and pianist Eric Zivian joined British violinist Monica Huggett for a chamber music concert in the Green Music Center’s Schro...
Choral and Vocal
GOOD FRIDAY REQUIEM FILLS INCARNATION
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 30, 2018
Maurice Duruflé’s short and intense Requiem has been heard in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation before, but the March 30 Good Friday performance was stripped down in the number of performers, combining Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir with musical underpinning from organist Robert Youn...
Symphony
HAMELIN'S HUSKY MOOD IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Convention in piano recitals has the artist coming on stage and playing. Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin walked on Schroeder Hall’s stage March 25 and didn’t play for six minutes, chatting with the audience. A risk for some artists. Then most programs include a contemporary or rarely play...
Recital
VIRTUOSIC VARIATIONS IN MORGAN'S SCHROEDER ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Organist Robert Huw Morgan’s artistry spun through the web of early variation form in a Mar. 18 recital on Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh organ. Mr. Morgan, Stanford University’s resident organist, performs a wide range of repertoire, but as he said in comments to the audience, he loves when h...
Symphony
ORFF AND HINDEMITH SONIC SPLENDOR AT FINAL SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 17, 2018
Sonoma County Philharmonic concerts are continually artistically successful but on the Santa Rosa High School’s stage the orchestra rarely numbers above 40, and in the 900-seat hall audiences can be scant. Violinists can be in short supply. An opposite scene occurred at the March 17/18 concert set...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Oakmont Concert Series / Thursday, October 16, 2008
LINCOLN PIANO TRIO

LINCOLN TRIO DOES HONEST ABE PROUD

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 23, 2008

It’s a flood tide for piano trios in the North Bay. For years SSU’s Trio Navarro has given numerous wonderful concerts, and recently the Tilden Trio (San Rafael) and the fledgling Sequoia Trio (Santa Rosa) have entered the fray. October 16 found a travelling troupe, Chicago’s Lincoln Trio, proving again the viability of the classical combination of piano, violin and cello.

Before an Oakmont Concerts Series of 200, the Lincoln began with Mendelssohn, but not the most popular of trios, the D Minor. This afternoon started with the C Minor, Op. 66, and it was a felicitous selection. Pianist Marta Aznavoorian quickly seized the leading role, the opening Allegro Energetico fleetly unfolding with just a touch of shady menace. The excellent ensemble continued through an elegant Andante Espressivo, sad and plaintive, and with a fast interplay of voices in the energetic third-movement Scherzo. Violinist Desiree Ruhstrat’s lovely pianissimo led to a bantamweight ending, and the finale Allegro Appassionato was a concentrated romp. Cellist David Cunliffe, solving some pesky pitch problems, supported the long line of the last movement. with its captivating interior Bach chorale.

Concluding the first half was “Autumn” from Piazzola’s “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.” The Argentinean master’s music isn’t usually associated with a piano trio, but here the tango-themes made good sense, led by the cello and slow arpeggios from the piano. The long slides in the violin were sparkling, and the short work ended with a
spicy, almost lascivious piano glissando. The audience loved it.

Two works comprised the second half, one novel and one as familiar as the warm fall day outside the hall. A hybrid work, Lawrence Dillons’ “The Better Angels of our Nature,” came from a commission that required the words of Lincoln to be woven into a musical texture. Here the narrator was Oakmont’s own Victor Spear, renowned chess historian and, with his wife Jane, an avid classical-music concertgoer. There were three long passages taken from the President’s letters or public statements, titled Integrity, Humor and Vision. Each came from the podium accompanied by the Trio’s musings, more background and pastoral than an equal partner with Dr. Spear’s stentorian locution. The background texture comprised slow rolled piano chords, high register string unisons and snippets of pizzicato and sforzando phrases. Lincoln’s word had dignity and heft, the music pretty forgettable but having in a long coda the last word.

Brahms wrote at least six popular trios, the Piano Trio No. 2 in C Major, Op. 87, coming from 1882. It’s never had the emotional impact for me as the earlier B Major Trio (Op. 8), but is a great work in the form, crammed with inspiration. In four movements, there are thematic relationships between the first and fourth and the architecture is sublime.

The Lincoln gave the work careful control of dynamics, often submerging the piano in the string sound. The episodic Andante Con Moto, the center of the work, opened with an absolute equanimity of unison strings, shimmering, and the sound finally melted into a tender but terminal void.

The animated finale was played with rich scales in all three instruments, Aznavoorian’s piano frequently anticipating the other’s entrances and pushing the tempo. It must be said that Ruhstrat has a refined violin sound, but the tone is not big or especially broad, something important for Brahms. Hers is not an “Oistrakh” sound, but in all ways secure and pliant, reflecting the discipline of her teacher, Aaron Rosand. Cunliff’s cello in this glorious Allegro giocoso supplied a firm bass, lacking perhaps only lush aggressiveness of the Tilden’s Peter Wyrick on the same stage two months ago. The racehorse ending brought the audience to its feet, but no encore was offered.

Artistically able to stand comparison with our resident and guest trios, the Lincoln is a fresh and professional addition to the chamber music scene, and one hopes they can return soon.