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Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
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.