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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
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.