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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
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...
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