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Recital
HOME RECITAL BACH COMPLETES HOLIDAY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 30, 2017
The just closing 2017 year was a calamity for many, but locally in music there were joys galore, and it was fitting Dec. 30 have the balm of two Bach’s violin sonatas in a private Guerneville home recital hosted by the eminent musician Sonia Tubridy. Violinist Richard Heinberg joined Ms. Tubridy in...
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 WITH 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 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.