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Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and itís often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Symphony
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie fŁr Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.Ē The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
Recital
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpourís March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
Recital
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmontís Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
Chamber
CONSUMMATE ENSEMBLE FROM THE MIR” IN WEILL
by Sonia Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Sunday, March 05, 2017
A March 5 Weill hall audience of 350 leaned in to share an intimate musical space and to hear the Mirů String Quartetís sterling concert. Starting with Haydn's Op. 20, No. 4, the four musicians seemed to want listeners to be enveloped in their music. The Mirů plays with the feat of being four dist...
Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shahamís transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almondís Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoonís norm, and with pianis...
Chamber
MUSIC AND ART MELD IN ZUCKERMAN TRIO CONCERT
by Nicki Bell
Friday, February 24, 2017
A Feb. 24 Weill Hall concert by the Pinchas Zuckerman Trio juxtaposed formidable music making with palpable associations about visual art. Brahmsí C Minor "SonatensatzĒ (Scherzo) is a short youthful work for violin and piano, and was an opening call to action. Lively and vigorous playing alternated...
Chamber
THREE BEETHOVEN TRIOS BEGUILE AUDIENCE IN FEB. 19 WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Chamber music concerts featuring one composer can be tricky, but the Han/Setzer/Finckel trio made a Feb. 19 Weill Hall audience of 500 hear and to a degree see the boundless creativity of Beethoven. The G Major Trio, Op. 1, No. 2, opened the afternoonís Beethoven odyssey and one wonders why it is t...
Chamber
AUTHORITATIVE BARTOK HIGHLIGHTS TETZLAFF VIOLIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Christian Tetzlaffís Feb. 18 violin recital rolled along with lively and fresh readings of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert when the specter of Bartokís granitic Second Sonata intervened. The sonic shock to the audience of 250 in Weill was palpable. Composed in 1923 the 20-minute two-movement work i...
Symphony
WHAT SOUND DO STAR-CROSSED LOVERS MAKE?
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Valentineís Day is just around the corner, so the Santa Rosa Symphony feted the occasion by telling and retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet, a tale ever the more poignant during our era of stark divisions. The first telling was from Berlioz; the second from Prokofiev. In between was Brahmsí monu...
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?