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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
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
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...
Recital
PIANISTIC COMMAND IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, October 08, 2017
Nikolay Khozyainov’s Oct. 8 debut at the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall was one of those rare moments in a young artist’s career when a performance approaches perfection. From the opening notes of Beethoven’s A-Flat Major Sonata (Op. 110) through a delightful recital ending transcription, the ...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Ft. Bragg Center For the Arts / Sunday, January 15, 2017
Carolyn Steinbuck, piano; Marcia Sloane, cello; Eric Kritz, clarinet

E. Kritz, C. Steinbuck and M. Sloane Bowing Before Preston Hall Audience

A MUSICAL ODYSSEY IN RIVITING PRESTON HALL RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 15, 2017

A standing room audience warmly greeted pianist Carolyn Steinbuck Jan. 15 in the season’s second Ft. Bragg Center For the Arts concert in Mendocino’s plebian Preston Hall.

Ms. Steinbuck, to be joined in the program’s second half by clarinetist Eric Kritz and cellist Marcia Sloane, programmed Schubert’s big B-Flat Major Sonata, D. 960. Schubert’s piano music is seemingly now on every recital program, but this is a recent development, and the first recording of a Schubert Sonata was as late as 1928. The pianist read extensive program notes and discussed the reasons for deciding to take the first movement repeat before beginning a 40-minute musical odyssey.

But the odyssey, although long, never dragged and underscored what pianists call the Schubert’s “heavenly length.” The tempos throughout the Sonata were judicious and never hurried, leaving room for many variations in the low bass trills and voice leading. The Hall’s resident piano was voiced warmly rather than brilliantly, and through the first two movements the playing was both dramatic and poetic. There were little artistic touches everywhere, including an arpeggiated chord before the Molto moderato’s concluding chords, and a beguiling and carefully shaped three-note repeated left-hand figures (played seco) in the Andante. The playing here was a highlight in the concert.

Ms. Steinbuck, a seminal figure in Mendocino County music for many years, pushed the tempo in the concluding Allegro but the music never got out of hand, and drew a raucous standing ovation. It was a workman performance that focused on the spirituality and often-delicate repose of the composer’s last and greatest Sonata.

Following a long intermission Mr. Kritz and Ms. Sloane joined the pianist for Muczynski’s Fantasy Trio, Op. 26, the work last heard locally with the Trio Navarro in 2015. The four-movement composition from 1971 received a reading that alternated aggressive rhythms and lyrical outbursts. It’s a free wheeling trio with constantly changing meter, and sporadically the clarinet line was lost in the sonic mix. Ms. Sloane played a long opening line in the Andante over pedal point in the piano, then Mr. Kritz performed a mournful theme over drone phrases from the cello. The music is not nostalgic, just sad, with a soft and haunting last cello and clarinet notes.

Strongly syncopated rhythmic playing and clipped phrases characterized the Allegro Deciso, the music jabbing with quick thrusts, and the Finale went from a bucolic beginning to a jaunty conclusion, with whiffs of sardonic Shostakovich. Ms. Sloane’s cello had the requisite low note growl.

Brahms’ late romanticism was on display in the concluding Clarinet Trio, Op. 114. Instrumental colors were foremost here with a wider cello vibrato and some pesky string pitch wavering in the high registers. Much of the lovely Adagio was question and response phrasing between Ms. Sloane and Ms. Kritz, with a subsidiary piano line. Mr. Kritz’s deft clarinet playing dominated the Andantino with phrasing of a tender dance.

A typical raucous Brahms Allegro ended the work with a perfect instrumental interplay of the many structural sequences of falling thirds. It was short, just under five minutes, but packed with energetic and at times virtuosic playing.

Another standing ovation brought this stellar Trio back for an encore, a droll and circus like piece (“Trickster”) by Ms. Sloane that not surprisingly featured her cello playing. It was spirited and a little spooky in a refined way, with a charming long decrescendo to a quiet finish.

Clearly Ms. Steinbuck’s Trio is a North Coast favorite and presented a performance that combined provocative programing, transparent ensemble and exemplary playing.