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Chamber
BEETHOVEN FEATURED IN SF TRIO'S OCCIDENTAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 19, 2020
Conventional repertoire in uncommonly good performances highlighted the San Francisco Piano Trio’s Jan. 19 concert in the Occidental Center for the Arts. Haydn’s No. 44 Trio (Hob. XV:28) came from late in his long career, when he was in and out of London, and received a sparkling reading that featu...
SIMONE PORTER ASPIRES TO STARDOM WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 12, 2020
The Sibelius violin concerto is one of several mountains that violin soloists need to ascend before they can lay claim to stardom. Hundreds make the attempt every year, but only a few reach the top. Simone Porter, who played the concerto with the Santa Rosa Symphony on Sunday afternoon, got close bu...
Choral and Vocal
ORPHEUS OF AMSTERDAM'S MUSIC IN SCHROEDER ORGAN CHORAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, January 10, 2020
“All over the map.” Sonoma Bach, directed by Bob Worth, has taken its audiences this season on journeys through many centuries and many lands. The programming is fresh and intriguing and the performers varied and creators of beauty and interest. The January 10 program was centered on organ works by...
Choral and Vocal
OLD NORTH GERMAN CAROLS IN SONOMA BACH'S SCHROEDER CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, December 15, 2019
“Cast off all sorrows…also dance in heavenly fashion.” A volume called Piae Cantiones was printed in 1582 in North Germany, lively songs going back to the 14th century, and this treasure trove provided material for numerous composers to arrange Christmas carols over following generations, from simp...
Symphony
EVERLASTING LIGHT AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Monday, December 09, 2019
The Mozart Requiem includes four intermittent vocal soloists, but the real star is the choir, which is featured in almost every movement. That stardom shone bright at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s memorable Requiem performance on Monday night. The soloists were good, but the choir was superb. Located wi...
Symphony
UNFINISHED AND FINNISH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 08, 2019
Having a new resident conductor on the podium for the Ukiah Symphony was an attractive invitation for a long-delayed visit to Mendocino College’s Center Theater Dec. 8. The insouciant Les Pfutzenreuter recently retired after decades of conducting the ensemble, replaced by Phillip Lenberg who also j...
Choral and Vocal
PRAERTORIUS IN RENAISSANCE GLORY FROM SONOMA BACH
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, November 16, 2019
Sonoma Bach Choir, in collaboration with Barefoot All-Stars Viol Consort and The Whole Noyse Brass Ensemble, presented “Sing Glorious Praetorius!” November 16 to an almost full Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. The Soloists were soprano Dianna Morgan, Christopher Fritzsche, (countertenor), m...
Symphony
ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL EXCITEMENT IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 16, 2019
Beginning with a scintillating reading of Rossini’s Overture to the Opera “Semiramide,” the Sonoma County Philharmonic performed a splendid program Nov. 16 in the Jackson Theater, and featured two additional works, one showcasing the winner of the San Francisco Conservatory’s Young Artist Award. It...
Chamber
SPIRITUAL LATE BEETHOVEN QUARTET HIGHLIGHTS MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 10, 2019
Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131, called “unparalleled in its inexhaustibility” by critic Thomas May, is a daunting challenge. Orchestral in concept, filled with wit and charm, melancholy and fury, it almost overwhelms listeners. Playing the frenetic Scherzo, a viol...
Symphony
MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANCE IN UNIQUE SRS CONCERT IN WEILL HALL
by Terry McNeill
Monday, November 04, 2019
It was a concert full of surprises Nov. 4 as the Santa Rosa Symphony responded to the area’s wild fires and evacuations with challenging, songful and somewhat unique music in Weill Hall. The last of a three-concert series titled "Master of the Modern Banjo" is reviewed here. The evening began with...
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, Mozart’s 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 violin’s reinforcing line without providing any counterpoint.

Ms. Freivogel played constant interjections into the lovely fabric of Mozart’s 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.

Chopin’s 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 Festival’s 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 composer’s famous D Minor Trio, and though it lacks none of Mendelssohn’s signature ebullience and smooth panache, but with gut strings in the violin and cello and a fortepiano the music had small dimensions. But that’s 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 Mendelssohn’s 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 Mendelssohn’s charming music proved seductive.

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