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Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
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