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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...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Valley of the Moon Music Festival / Sunday, July 19, 2015
Eric Hoeprich, clarinet; Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin; Tanya Tomkins, cello; Eric Zivian, fortepiano

Eric Hoeprich, Eric Zivian, Tanya Tomkins July 19 at Sonoma's Hanna Boys Center

CLARINET MUSIC LAUNCHES NEW FESTIVAL IN SONOMA VALLEY

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 19, 2015

Among the several North Coast summer festivals in 2015 is a new one, the Valley of the Moon Music Festival, directed by San Francisco-area artists Tanya Tomkins and Eric Zivian. It’s unique in presenting seven concerts of the Classical and Romantic eras with instruments designed and mostly built when the music was written.

Held in the new auditorium of Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center, the series was inaugurated July 19 with a splendid afternoon of chamber works featuring clarinetist Eric Hoeprich. In the opening Haydn F-Sharp Minor Trio, H. XV: 26, Mr. Zivian and Ms. Tomkins were joined by stellar Baroque violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock.

The piano in the Haydn, owned by Mr. Zivian, was a reproduction of a 1795 Dutch design and allowed the pianist’s fast on-top-of-the-key scales to sound well in the somber opening Allegro and the songful Adagio with its lovely decrescendo ending. As in many of Haydn’s trios the minuet finale received playing of a breezy manner and jocular rhythms.

Ms. Tomkins and Messrs Zivian and Hoeprich then played Beethoven’s early Clarinet Trio in B-Flat Major (Op. 11) with sharply contrasting melodic fragments and an elegant interplay of instrumental voices. The piano here was a restored 1841 Viennese instrument which was best heard in the yearning slow pace of the Adagio and the variations that made up the finale. The inane theme of the latter was often played softly with a comely cello-clarinet duo and Mr. Zivan’s long virtuosic interlude before the coda.

After intermission Weber’s Clarinet Variations in B Flat, Op. 33, was heard from Mr. Hoeprich and Mr. Zivian, and Glinka’s Trio Pathétique (1832). A lovely theme characterized the Weber work, and it turned frothy as each variation unfolded. There were long solo variations for the piano where at frequent places Mr. Zivian dropped his left shoulder to accentuate a phrase ending. Both artists were adept in the syncopated dance variations. It was the concert’s highlight.

Graceful cello solos were featured in the Glinka Trio, a period piece written not in the composer’s Russia but in Italy. It received a polished performance with big down-keyboard skips by Mr. Zivian and dramatic clarinet phrases that carried the work above its rather routine external refinement. The piano sound here was significantly more powerful than the tiny instrument used for Haydn, and had a resonate bass and a predictably weak treble register. It seemed well suited to the three featured compositions.

Mention needs to made of the Center’s hall, a new auditorium with a wide and low stage, direct acoustics and flat-floor seating for perhaps 250. Parking and access are excellent and Hanna may well become a key Sonoma Valley musical venue. Additional Festival concerts, listed on the Classical Sonoma Calendar, are July 31 (young artists, free admission, 7:30 p.m.), August 1 (4 p.m., Mozart’s Viola Quintet) and a Mozart Sonata for Violin and Mendelssohn’s C Minor Trio, Op. 66, for the Festival-ending event August 2 at 4 p.m. Tickets are $40 (General) and $20 for ages below 30.