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Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 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...
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...
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.