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Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Recital
NOVACEK'S 2ND HALF TRIFECTA SCORES AT MENDO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Modern classical piano recitals are in two parts, with longer and perhaps more profound music proceeding perhaps shorter and usually stimulating lighter fare. In John Novacek’s July 13 Mendocino Music Festival recital the best playing came unexpectedly in the eight abbreviated works comprising the ...
REVIEW

The Trio Navarro

ARENSKY TOPS RUSSIAN TROIKA

by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Trio Navarro, Sonoma State’s resident ensemble, played the second of their season’s four concerts on Nov. 9 in Ives Hall, juxtaposing three rarely heard works of disparate length and impact.

The concert began with Rachmaninoff’s early G Minor Trio (“Elegiaque”), composed in 1892, long before the more revered works in the composer’s canon. The composition received a full-throated reading, with proper references to the Tchaikovsky Trio of a decade earlier and a wonderful cello line from Jill Rachuy Brindel. As always, the acoustics of Ives 119 favor low frequencies, and diminish upper string warmth. Roy Malan seemed tentative with the violin part, deferring to his partners. The nostalgic and sad ending, with the main theme repeated and underscored by piano tremolos, was stretched out and lovely. The Elegiaque is a work not often heard, and it fades easily from memory.

Even less canonic than the Rachmaninoff are the Four Miniatures, Op. 18/24, by the Swiss/Russian composer Paul Juon. Oddly, each of the four movements has a different opus number. The Navarro played all of these well, especially the sensuous opening Reverie, with its hints of the second Arensky Trio. The violin and cello interplay here and in the ethereal Elegie Andante Cantabile were elegant outpourings of sound. The march-like second movement and the waltz-like finale paraded an extravagant piano part, performed with secure rhythms and clarity by Marilyn Thompson. The Miniatures were well worth hearing, but they also seem fated to slip from memory.

Quite another matter is the Arensky Trio in D Minor, Op. 32, which occupied the entire second half. I must confess a penchant for this work, beginning many years ago with a Los Angeles performance by Pennario, Heifetz and Piatigorsky. The trio can be played rather fast and secco as the Beaux Arts Trio does, or in the lush “leaning into the phrase” manner of the savory Borodin Trio recording. The Navarro adopted the quick-tempo approach, which is certainly legitimate but seems to lack the necessary languor. Thompson used many slight ritardandos at the ends of phrases, allowing some violin voice leading in the opening Allegro moderato to bring forth the noble theme.

The following Scherzo produced intriguing plucking string sounds and a swaggering middle section. Thompson pushed the tempos throughout, often bordering on raucous playing, and half-pedaled most of the runs. The celestial Adagio belongs to the cello, and Brindel’s bow control was exemplary, the arpeggios even and sweet. The unison cello-violin ending was transfixing, with the last chords reluctantly given to the piano.

The dramatic finale begins again with a nod towards Tchaikovsky, the cello introducing the theme and then giving it to the increasingly singing violin. This juxtaposition of drama and lyricism goes through three cycles, and then the big theme from the first movement surprisingly appears. Arensky seems to want to ensure the supremacy of the piano, and Thompson seized the moment and drove things into a heroic conclusion.

The Arensky trio is a formidable composition, and it was expertly played by the Navarro. For future programs, I vote for the arcane and Schumannesque second Arensky Trio, Op. 73.

The Navarro was in fine form and provided for 70 people a classical companion to the memorial music held in the adjacent Warren Auditorium for the late SSU faculty member, Mel Graves. Mention should be made of the upgraded printed programs, more colorful and informative than the vapid specimens distributed at previous years’ concerts.