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Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Recital
NOVACEK'S 2ND HALF TRIFECTA SCORES AT MENDO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Modern classical piano recitals are in two parts, with longer and perhaps more profound music proceeding perhaps shorter and usually stimulating lighter fare. In John Novacek’s July 13 Mendocino Music Festival recital the best playing came unexpectedly in the eight abbreviated works comprising the ...
Recital
STYLUS AND PLAYING FANTASTICUS IN YOUNG'S ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Organist Robert Young gave a wonderful tour through the stylus fantasticus (fantastic style) organ literature June 25 playing a recital on the Casavant organ at Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Young recently became the organist at the Church and previously served for 20 years as Music D...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Green Music Center / Sunday, November 15, 2015
Lincoln Trio. Desirée Rushstrat, violin; David Cunliffe, cello; Marta Aznavoorian, piano

Lincoln Trio

LUMINOUS CLARKE AND BRAHMS FROM THE LINCOLN IN SCHROEDER

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, November 15, 2015

Reveling in bold gestures and fine detail, the Chicago based Lincoln Trio performed Nov. 15 in Schroeder Hall, and gave a beautiful and masterful concert of works by Beethoven, Clarke and Brahms. Violinist Desirée Ruhstrat on violin, cellist David Cunliffe and Marta Aznavoorian (piano) have played together since 2003, and they are an elegant ensemble and not three fine soloists assembled for a while. They mix programs of well-known works with new compositions of contemporary repertoire Among their CDs is a program called Notable Women and another featuring trios by Turina.

The acoustics of the handsome and comfortable Schroeder Hall allowed the Lincoln to communicate the music with clarity and excellent balance between strings and piano. The lovely magenta and cobalt blue gowns worn by the women were elegant and visually complemented the playing.

Beethoven's Opus 11 Trio from 1798 was originally intended for clarinet, cello and piano, but to have it more widely played the composer arranged the clarinet part for violin. Ms. Ruhstrat gave us a performance that was convincing and the color of a clarinet was not lacking. The first movement opened with authority and took us through the excitement of mood and key changes, playful sometimes, emphatic at others, and then gentle dolce themes juxtaposed with wild passages. The adagio second movement features a transcendently lovely cello solo in the tenor clef which is passed around to the others and is one of those Beethoven movements that can move and delight effortlessly. The playing was subtle, every phrase intelligently shaped, and the instruments sang to us. The last movement is in fact based on a song, a popular aria well known at that time: "Before I play I must have something to eat!,” from Weigl's comic opera “Love at Sea.” Here, in an an inventive set of variations, vulgar meets sublime; a witty syncopated coda finishes the work.

Rebecca Clarke's 1921 Trio, not often performed, is a work of great passion and daring, as are her works that focus primarily on small ensembles and songs. The first movement, (moderato ma appassionato) introduced the audience to the composer’s unique sound, influenced by French Impressionism and English folk songs but always in her own distinctive and powerful compositional voice. She was looking back to the extreme romantic gestures of the 19th century and forward into harmonies and rhythmical experimentation of the 20th century. The music is tempestuous and goes from wild dissonant outbursts to serene lovely melodic moments.

The second movement (andante molto semplice) started with single piano notes above which the violin wove a lament. The harmonies were frequently modal and a simple rising whole tone motive evoked dream states and vast emotional spaces. Here the violin often achieved the rich low sound of a viola. The blending of string colors and piano was exquisite. The allegro vigoroso third movement completed this trio with much virtuosic piano writing. There was wild staccato humor, pale watery colors that alternated with bold sound shapes and lovely melodies with echoes of the first movement. There was ferocious dancing sonority dying down to sadness, and then a gust of stormy wind whipping our spirits onward to the end.

After the intermission, the attentive and clearly knowledgeable audience was treated the a beautiful short piece by contemporary American composer Stacey Garrop. “Silver Dagger” is based on the ballad made famous by Joan Baez, and made use of interesting and unusual sound effects from each instrument to make an intriguing and lovely setting.

The final trio was the Brahms Op. 87 in C Major. Brahms wrote this at a relatively happy time in his life and the Lincoln played this beloved work with respect for nuances in dynamics and phrasing and avoidance of bombastic overstatement. The opening, often played with exaggerated force, was rich sounding but also gentle. In loud sections the phrasing was shaped to free the themes from the meter while maintaining their melodic integrity. This performance was powerful and not frantic. The instruments were clear with a rich vibrant sound to enchant us and all musical details were audible. The Andante con moto is a theme (actually two themes) and variations movement with a Hungarian flavor. These variations were played with much articulation and sensitive piano interweaving with the strings. The scherzo is like Mendelssohn in a dark c minor mood with a soaring expansive trio section. This was played at an extremely fast tempo and pianissimo quiet passages, making the performance otherworldly at times. The last movement, Finale, allegro giocoso, has something for everybody. It is full of good boisterous fun and dances. The rondo theme comes back with variations and surprises. Brahms is like a magician conjuring up tricks and joyful magic. The Lincoln played with energy and an always beautiful expressive tone. This is music they have lived with and have explored as an ensemble, a treat for all of us in the audience.

After prolonged and enthusiastic applause, the encore was Piazzolla's tango Autumn in the Port (Buenos Aires), played with great abandon and full of the musicians' personal forays into improvisation on the written score.