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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 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
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
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