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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 it’s 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 für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” 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 Daneshpour’s 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 Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
Chamber
CONSUMMATE ENSEMBLE FROM THE MIRÓ 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 Miró String Quartet’s sterling concert. Starting with Haydn's Op. 20, No. 4, the four musicians seemed to want listeners to be enveloped in their music. The Miró 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 Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s 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. Brahms’ C Minor "Sonatensatz” (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 afternoon’s Beethoven odyssey and one wonders why it is t...
Chamber
AUTHORITATIVE BARTOK HIGHLIGHTS TETZLAFF VIOLIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Christian Tetzlaff’s Feb. 18 violin recital rolled along with lively and fresh readings of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert when the specter of Bartok’s 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
Valentine’s 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 Brahms’ monu...
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.