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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...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Green Music Center / Sunday, February 28, 2016
Cypress String Quartet Cecily Ward and Tom Stone,violin; Ethan Filner, viola; Jennifer Kloetzel, cello

Cypress String Quartet in Schroeder Feb. 28

VALEDICTORY CYPRESS QUARTET CONCERT IN SCHROEDER

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 28, 2016

Parting can be such sweet sorrow, but better than either was the Cypress String Quartet’s farewell North Bay concert Feb. 28 in Schroeder. The group will disband in June in their San Francisco hometown.

Violinist Tom Stone’s remarks to the audience of 175 about Haydn set the stage for sure-footed performance of the C Major Quartet, Op. 76, No. 3. Schroeder’s acoustics seemed to favor cellist Jennifer Kloetzel’s sound, even the drone effects, but throughout the opening Allegro and in the long duo for two violins in the Adagio every instrument carried well and blended.

In the Variations each instrument has a solo in turn, then bursts forth the composer’s resplendent Austrian/German national hymn. The Minuetto was played with a judicious tempo, with many delicate details and spicatto bowings. Violinists Cecily Ward and Mr. Stone traded fast descending scales in the finale and the Cypress fashioned a reading of the “Emperor” Quartet of rich string color and rhythmic precision. It was a splendid blend of Haydn’s elegance and simple earthiness.

Glazunov wrote five Novelettes for string quartet, and the three played to close the first half were Allegretto ala spagnuola, Interludium and Orientale. There were well played but passed without much notice, even juxtaposing the pizzicato dances of the first and the sorrowful and pensive second. Violist Ethan Filner, seated at stage right, played solos in themes that were reminiscent of Vaughan Williams music. The whirling short motives of the Orientale were the most effective, rustic to the last bowed note in a unison attack. It was an odd program choice, but clearly relished by the Cypress.

In their 20 years together the Cypress has played through the Beethoven cycle many times, and the choice of the B-Flat Quartet (Op. 130) was an opportunity to say goodbye to the North Bay with a work of monumental power and interest. The 1826 piece is in six movements, with an optional finale, and Ms. Kloetzel described to the audience how the Quartet approaches Beethoven, and why the Grosse Fuge last movement was chosen for performance over the alternative Allegro.

Both the opening Adagio and the finale appear to be struggles between two instincts of an individual – the imploring instinct and the instinct of violence. They played the Adagio in a more lyrical manner than anticipated, with many small phrases starting to go astray but never actually doing it. The skittish B Minor Scherzo was quickly over, and the following Andante was played fancifully and almost intimately.
I thought both the Danza Tedesca and the E-Flat Major cavatina movements were performed exquisitely, the tranquil and restrained emotion phrases beautifully shaped. Capturing here the essence of Beethoven’s spiritual energy was for me the highlight of the afternoon, and the Cypress’ deft changes in tempo were both natural and critical to this luminescent music.

The great Fugue invites comparison with the Op. 106 Piano Sonata Fugue, as both have a slow but never timid middle section between the often-strident outer parts. But the string fugue is harder to follow, even with ample thematic projection from Ms. Ward and Mr. Filner cutting through the aural din, pedal point in the cello and minimal vibrato all around. This movement lasted 14 minutes, not too long but since 1826 still demanding a listener’s attentive ear and exploring mind.

Surprisingly, the Cypress responded to an ovation with one encore, which I think was Suk’s Venetian Gondola Song. And a sweet poem without words it was, a valedictory gift capping a masterful concert.

Sonia Morse Tubridy contributed to this review.