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Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Saturday, January 16, 2016
Kahane-Swenson-Brey Trio. Jeffrey Kahane, piano; Joseph Swenson, violin; Carter Brey, cello

Kahane/Swenson/Brey Trio

SCINTILLATING SCHUBERT IN WEILL

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 16, 2016

Audience members in Weill Jan. 16 that expecting a balanced, albeit conservative chamber music evening received a slight surprise with a scintillating Schubert Trio that upstaged two otherwise splendid works.

Schubert a surprise? In the hands of violinist Joseph Swenson, cellist Carter Brey and ensemble leader Jeffrey Kahane the E-Flat Trio (Op. 100) in 39 minutes never seemed long, though all repeats were honored. Musicians refer to the composer’s “heavenly length” and this performance underscored the work’s inspired thematic development. In the first two movements there was a joyous spread of chords, the melodies and modulations unfolding naturally at a brisk tempo. Mr. Brey’s wide vibrato in the stately C Minor march theme opened the Andante, the inward agitation set against the rapid trills in the piano and Mr. Swenson’s deft bowing. The last reentry of the theme was lovely and disappeared almost mysteriously.

Elegant and jaunty dance-like music was well captured in the final two movements, the pianist impressive in the speed of repeated notes and a faint feeling of gypsy rhythms. Mr. Brey repeated with careful emphasis the Andante’s march, showcasing how the composer can so quickly turn from happy lyricism to somber propriety.

This striking and masterly reading generated a standing ovation from the audience of 500, but not the “anticipated” encore of a movement of Paul Schoenfeld’s Café Music.

Schumann’s first Trio and Mozart’s E Major Trio (K. 542) comprised the concert’s first half, with both receiving virtuoso performance. In the Mozart, as with the Schubert, the working out of primary and secondary themes and counterpoint was perfection, and the powerful role of the piano always at the fore. Nothing lags when Mr. Kahane is sailing along with Presto half-pedaled runs, but this music can handle such speed and the ensemble never faltered. The broad Cantilena of the Andante showcased luscious violin and cello interplay.

In the final Rondo a “concerto” approach was taken, broad and festive. Mr. Swenson’s thematic projection and intonation was impressive.

Schumann wrote his D Minor Trio, the first of three, in 1847, and has a feverish energy with a hint of menace and gloom. Mr. Brey had the initial leading role here with graceful abbreviated upward runs, but overall the movement, even with the tumult, seemed extended. However the vivacious Scherzo (“Lebhaft”) seemed short, even with numerous repeats of the main phrase reminiscent of constant repeats in the composer’s E Flat Quartet (Op. 44). Even the most exquisite theme can become banal with manifold repetitions.

In the concluding “Mit Feuer” movement Mr. Kahane’s boisterous pianist had several telling inner voices but handed voice leading to the violin and cello. The driving Accelerando near the end brought an exciting conclusion to what must be Schumann’s best trio, and the performers oddly appeared both exhausted and energetic when taking bows.

Nicki Bell contributed to this review