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Recital
HOME RECITAL BACH COMPLETES HOLIDAY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 30, 2017
The just closing 2017 year was a calamity for many, but locally in music there were joys galore, and it was fitting Dec. 30 have the balm of two Bach’s violin sonatas in a private Guerneville home recital hosted by the eminent musician Sonia Tubridy. Violinist Richard Heinberg joined Ms. Tubridy in...
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 WITH 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 REVIEW
Valley of the Moon Music Festival / Saturday, July 23, 2016
Elizabeth Blumenstock, viola; Sadie Glass, horn; Holly Piccoli, violin; Kyle Stegall, tenor; Tanya Tomkins, cello; Eric Zivian, fortepiano

Eric Zivian and Kyle Stegall at VOM Music Festival Concert (J.Hefti Photo)

SCHUBERT'S THEMES OF YOUTH AND DEATH AT VOM MUSIC FESTIVAL CONCERT

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 23, 2016

The beautiful new Hanna Boys Center auditorium in Sonoma Valley was the setting for the July 23 concert of the Valley of the Moon (VOM) Music Festival, now in it’s second year. Directors Tanya Tomkins and Eric Zivian have created a Festival of Classical and Romantic repertoire played on period instruments or copies of same, all string instruments using gut rather than steel. This is now recognized as "historically informed " performance practice.

Great music and professional musicians would provide exciting concerts, but there is much more to this Festival. There is an apprentice program for young artists who are coached and then perform, not only in their own groups, but included with their teachers in all concerts. This new/old tradition breathes a wonderful vitality into VOM Festival.
   
Titled Death and the Maiden, the all-Schubert program began with some of the composer’s Lieder (he wrote over three hundred) from which tenor Kyle Stegall and fortepianist Eric Zivian chose seven. The songs all explored themes of death and youth. Death is inevitable and wicked; youth and beauty are fragile. Mr. Stegall sang with great intensity of emotion in all ranges, and the audience and singer seemed completely engaged in the drama and beauty of the music and words.  Mr. Zivian accompanied with subtle touches and beautiful shadings of tone that are possible on the fortepiano. First on the program was Auf dem Strom which has a horn part as duet with the singer, one of only a handful of such compositions. Sadie Glass played the period horn with beautiful legato lines and exciting changes of color in this lyrical and dramatic piece. It was tender and moving. The balance of parts was exquisite. Mr. Stegall then continued with An Silvia (from Shakespeare) and then Verklarung (from Pope), ending with the line "Oh Death, where is thy sting?,“ and sung in anguished fortissimo following a dramatic recitative and an almost whispered "Beloved spirit, come and rest!".

The singer at times seemed transported to other worlds, expressing the texts with gestures of voice, face, eyes, hands and body. Knowing German was not necessary for understanding the emotional journeys in Der Jungling an der Quelle and Der Jungling und der Tod . An eery and unforgettable moment occurred at the end of the song Death and the Maiden, as Mr. Stegall very slowly raised his right hand out toward the audience and stared into the far distance.

After a short intermission the song Death and the Maiden returned as the beloved String Quartet in D minor, D. 810, in which the Lied is used in a theme and variations movement.  Ms. Thomkins (cello) and violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock joined apprentices Holly Piccoli (violin) and violist Liana Berube and produced a fine performance. The period instrument stringing and the style of playing that suits the music allowed for different shadings of musical lines. Sometimes the lines were quite intimate and even muted, with clear blended unisons and sometimes foggy effects, and provided fresh insights.

In the Allegro Ms. Tomkins was magnificent leading and supporting the Beethoven-like themes of passionate striving. Sweetly melting harmonies and dying dotted rhythms were effective. The Andante theme and variations traversed musical landscapes from tragic sadness to a beauty overcoming all. The variation featuring cello pizzicato and complex lively inner rhythms was outstanding. The Scherzo movement was played with effective harshness of tone and wild syncopations, and then the galloping Presto movement was energetic and compelling.
    
After a reception featuring Beltane Ranch wines, there was a round table discussion led by KDFC FM radio’s Rick Malone. Musicians spoke of the search for new forms of articulation on these instruments and the shift from gesture and dance in the Baroque to the psychological journeys, long lines and stories of Schubert and Schumann. Ms. Tomkins was eloquent in her description of her own journey to this area of historical performance and in describing the excitement of the apprentice program.