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Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now it seems to be on almost every...
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...
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.