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SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 08, 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...
Choral and Vocal
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...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 09, 2020
The Feb. 9 performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony offered a healthy dose of 21st century music firmly bound to the 19th. Matt Browne’s first symphony, “The Course of Empire”—based on a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School of American painting in the 1820s—emp...
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 02, 2020
Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert. In his eighth conducting season with the So C...
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 01, 2020
The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, gave a concert of enormous energy and emotional impact on Feb.1 to a small audience in Weill Hall. This orchestra has been a major cultural force in Poland since 1949, playing under many renowned conductors and has been committed to pr...
EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT
by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 2020
“Beautiful, strange, and unnatural…” said orchestra conductor Thomas Conlin when speaking of the tenor voice. One of the coveted voice types of the opera world, the tenor voice is known for it’s piercing tones and soaring, unnatural high notes. The iconic image of the Pagliacci clown (in the famed...
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.