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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
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.