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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 Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s 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 Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t 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 – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – 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 weekend’s 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 Matsuev’s 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 Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s 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
Respighi’s 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
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s 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
Trio Navarro and Friends / Sunday, October 04, 2015
Victor Romasevich, violin; Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello; Marilyn Thompson, piano

Trio Navarro in 2014

ARCANE ARENSKY TRIO HIGHLIGHTS NAVARRO'S SEASON OPENING CONCERT IN SCHROEDER

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 04, 2015

One would have thought that the glitz surrounding Lang Lang’s 101 Pianists Foundation program Oct. 4 in Weill would have upstaged chamber music at the same time in nearby Schroeder Hall. Not to worry, as the Trio Navarro continues to perform sometimes-neglected gems from the trio literature with a level of artistry that the Chinese superstar might grandly applaud.

In Rimsky-Korsakov’s My Musical Life he writes in 1905 that the works and life of his pupil Anton Arensky “…will soon be forgotten.” And that has mostly been so, with the exception of piano bagatelles, some suites, two string quartets and the first Trio in D Minor. The Navarro programmed the rarely heard second Trio in F Minor, Op. 73, for the second half of the concert, and scored a minor triumph with it before an audience of 125.

The Trio choose quick tempos and clipped phrases in the opening movement, eschewing extended ritards and the voice leading one hears in recordings of Arensky by Russian musicians. It’s Tchaikovsky influenced a bit by Schumann. A surprisingly movement ending accelerandowas played swiftly and vigorously. In the lyrical second movement pianist Marilyn Thompson played the opening expressive theme and throughout the music from 1905 is achingly rich, but even here in opulent thematic voices traded between violinist Victor Romasevich and cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel one hoped for a little more loosening of tempo. Mr. Romasevich held one high note at the end of an ascending phrase with just the right character of suspense and bright tone.

A Scherzo comprises a wonderful trio in a waltz form, and the concluding “Tema con Variazioni” with a big cello part portraying music that is less exalted than the preceding movements. It’s episodic until the return of the first-movement’s dark theme, and the Navarro played it with conviction. Brahms’ last movements are always imposing; Arensky’s are less so.

Before intermission the Navarro played trios by Haydn (B Flat Major, Hob XV:20) and the venerable Dvorak E Minor (“Dumky”). Haydn wrote more than 40 piano trios, and in most the cello supports the violin’s stating principal themes. It was this way in the first two movements with Mr. Romasevich’s light vibrato and a simple and long introductory line from Ms. Thompson in the Andante Cantabile. At times this Trio sounded like an accompanied piano solo, brisk and and pungent.

Dvorak’s famous Dumky has often been played by the Navarro, but with violinist Roy Malan. It’s a masterful work of vitality and infectious Czech rhythmic power in six alternating dumka of festive gaiety and yearning, though alike in character. The Navarro performed the demanding rhythm patterns with seasoned artistry. A highlight was the lovely recitative in the Poco Adagio sounding with Ms. Brindel’s plaintive cello melody, and the Cantilena in the piano part. In the fourth dumka again the cello carried a melancholy theme over the bass lines of piano and violin, and this created a sense of warm calm.

The final dumka (Lento) had the Navarro playing up the disparity of a grave pathetic theme with a wild quick section, and Ms. Brindel as earlier had prominence with her assured cello technique.

The repertoire selection and performance gave me no reason to change a decade-long view that the Navarro is the best resident piano trio in Northern California.