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Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
Chamber
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Recital
GLOVER'S ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHT'S CINNABAR RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Daniel Glover is arguably the busiest virtuoso pianist in the San Francisco Bay area, but rarely is heard in North Bay concerts. So 90 local pianophiles were anxious to hear him Feb. 17 in Petaluma’s charming small Cinnabar Theater, and they were rewarded with an eclectic program of sometimes unfam...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
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.