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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...
Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Recital
NOVACEK'S 2ND HALF TRIFECTA SCORES AT MENDO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Modern classical piano recitals are in two parts, with longer and perhaps more profound music proceeding perhaps shorter and usually stimulating lighter fare. In John Novacek’s July 13 Mendocino Music Festival recital the best playing came unexpectedly in the eight abbreviated works comprising the ...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Sonoma State University Department of Music / Sunday, October 23, 2016
Trio Navarro and Friends. Kathleen Reynolds, flute; Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello; Roy Zajac, clarinet; Marilyn Thompson, piano

(L to R) J. Brindel, K. Reynolds, M. Thompson and R. Zajac Oct. 23

TASTY TRIO NAVARRO CONCERT WITH SRS WIND VIRTUOSI

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 23, 2016

SSU’s resident Trio Navarro has a long history of presenting diverse programs in the piano trio format, with occasional out-of-area artists joining the mix. This familiar configuration was altered in an Oct. 23 Schroeder Hall concert with the deletion of the violin part and the addition of two sterling local wind players.

The “newbies” jumped right in with pianist Marilyn Thompson in a transcription of Fauré’s six-part Dolly Suite, Op. 56. In the opening “Berceuse” the flute (Kathleen Reynolds) and clarinet (Roy Zajac) parts carried perfectly to the audience of 125, the rich lines covering a tinckeling piano part. The balance improved in the “Mi-a-ou” and “Le Jardin de Dolly” movements, the first with a boisterous ending and the second wholly belonging to Mr. Zajac with his rendering a lovely theme taken from the same composer’s A Major Violin Sonata.

This was everywhere a fetching performance, especially in the “Tendresse” part that featured a slow and melancholic flute-clarinet interplay. The fast Chabrier-like finale (Le Pas Espagnol) was dominated by the piano part and brought the beguiling music to a chirpy end.

Trio co-founder cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel stepped out of her customary ensemble role to play Beethoven’s C Major Sonata, Op. 102, No. 1. Ms. Brindel’s performance was never forceful in power or tone, but featured a focused and lyrical sound that in the Andante-Allegro sporadically was covered in the low register by the piano. This is a piece far removed from the composer’s preceding and dramatic A Major Sonata, but some of it’s energy spilled over into the concluding Allegro Vivace. The duo’s deliberate tempo and strong accents highlighted the movement that had accurate instrumental pitch and elegant phrasing.

French composer Phillipe Gaubert, an early 20th Century colleague of flute master Georges Barrère, wrote his delectable “Trois Aquarelles” for flute, cello and piano, and the work is atmospherically French. Ms. Reynolds, principal Santa Rosa Symphony flutist, played extravagantly in the “Par un clair matin” with a rippling piano part and the cello line uncovering mild dissonances. Ms. Brindel’s vibrato widened and became richer in the “Soir d’automne” with a chaste minor-key ending.

An outdoor and waltz-like “Pipes of Pan” character was heard in the concluding “Sérénade” with Ms. Thompson’s rippling Arpeggios gently supporting the other two instruments.

Mr. Zajack, also a SRS principal, rejoined Ms. Thompson and Ms. Brindel to cap the afternoon with Nino Rota’s Trio, a 16-minute work from 1973 that is individual in ways that the composer’s 150 film scores are not. The Allegro was played percussively and in spots the pace was quite pushed. Unlike this movement, the following Andante had references to seamless film music with lush romantic themes, many slow climaxes and colorful melodies projected by Mr. Zajac and echoed by Ms. Brindel. It was some of the most choice playing of the day.

The concluding Allegrissimo was indeed light and “kittenish,” one instrument playing catch up to another with frequent tasty interjections. It’s derivative music in many ways, with touches of Milhaud and even a lighter sardonic Shostakovich, but no less enjoyable for that. The ensemble was assured and elicited and noisy ovation.