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Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Franciscoís Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handelís eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sundayís Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Gramsí inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franckís wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on todayís concert programs, and I canít remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine Ė symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals Ė so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekendís concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuevís high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovskyís big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboaís Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighiís B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIR” QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma Countyís Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Valley of the Moon Music Festival: MENDELSSOHN PIANO TRIO / Sunday, August 02, 2015
Monica Huggett, violin

Cynthia Freivogel, violin

Tanya Tomkins, cello

Eric Zivian, fortepiano

Pianist Eric Zivian and Cellist Tanya Tomkins

FROTHY CHAMBER WORKS CONCLUDE VALLEY OF THE MOON FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, August 02, 2015

A closing concert for a summer music festival, even a new series such as the Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VMMF), should be a capstone for the series. The recent Chamberfest Concerts at the Green Music Center, with all six Bach Brandenburgs as the finale, are an example.

Artists at the Festival finished the seven-event set August 2 with three mostly light-hearted works that underscored the period instrumental Festival sound. An oddity began the concert, Mozartís B-Flat Major Piano Sonata (K. 570), with a violin obbligato part from an unknown composer. Spohr? Brdgetower? VMMF co-director Eric Zivian was at the replica 1795 piano and Cynthia Miller Freivogel played the violinís reinforcing line without providing any counterpoint.

Ms. Freivogel played constant interjections into the lovely fabric of Mozartís opening Allegro and Adagio with ritards only at the end of phrases and more projection in the concluding Allegretto. Though the new Hanna Boys Center hall is not large, the timid pre-1800 piano sound could be improved by moving the instrument in the future (it can be carried by four people) far closer to the audience.

Chopinís Introduction et Polonaise Brillante, Op. 3, was a surprise addition to the program, and received a performance of infectious rhythmic lift that played off a judicious tempo. Much more rubato and instrumental leaning into the delicious Polish dance cadences than the Mozart came from cellist Tanya Tomkins and Mr. Zivian. The subtle slides in the cello were a perfect fit for this frothy piece, and the audience of 150 responded with a standing ovation.

The Festivalís 1841-era piano was used for the Chopin as well as the Mendelssohn C-Minor Trio, Op. 66, that comprised the second half of the program.

The C Minor Trio is not as popular as the composerís famous D Minor Trio, and though it lacks none of Mendelssohnís signature ebullience and smooth panache, but with gut strings in the violin and cello and a fortepiano the music had small dimensions. But thatís okay and some clangor from the piano is effective. Violinist Monica Huggett joined Ms. Tomkins and Mr. Zivian in the opening Allegro energico that had drama but also for Ms. Huggett intonation problems. The dreamy Andante featured subtle string portamento and pensive interludes, and Ms. Tomkins played delicate crescendos and diminuendos and a fetching ending similar to many of the endings of Mendelssohnís Songs Without Words for solo piano.

The Scherzo was appropriately fleet and resembled the finale of the D Minor Trio in virtuosity. The finale of the C Minor had authority even when the bass register of the piano rattled, and tuning in the gut strings wavered. It was a vigorous finale, moving effortlesly in the coda to C Major and a compelling conclusion that elicited loud applause. There was a substantial sprinkling of young musicians in the audience and Mendelssohnís charming music proved seductive.

Contributing to the Festivalís success was professional management with attractive printed materials, a five-student apprentice program, computerized ticketing and an attentive staff. An encore Festival in 2016?