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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 ...
Recital
STYLUS AND PLAYING FANTASTICUS IN YOUNG'S ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Organist Robert Young gave a wonderful tour through the stylus fantasticus (fantastic style) organ literature June 25 playing a recital on the Casavant organ at Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Young recently became the organist at the Church and previously served for 20 years as Music D...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Sunday, January 29, 2017
Joseph Kalichstein, piano; Jaime Laredo, violin; Sharon Robinson, cello

Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio

ENSEMBLE PERFECTION IN KLR TRIO'S 40TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 29, 2017

Longevity has its place in classical music. Composers and especially conductors live a long time, and venerable piano trios can linger for years. One can recall the great Cortot-Thibaud-Casals staying on the international scene for decades, and more recently Stern-Istomin-Rose, Oistrakh-Oborin-Knushevitsky and the Beaux Arts.

A Weill Hall audience of 600 welcomed Jan. 29 the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio on their 40th Anniversary tour, and they began quickly with Beethoven’s “Gassenhauer” Trio in B-Flat Major, Op. 11. Here the smooth ensemble and deft pacing that would be heard all evening were immediately telling. The heart of the 1797 work came with Ms. Robinson’s lovely cello introduction in the adagio of a simple, almost cutesy theme, that in Beethoven’s hands becomes complex and convincing. The changes of texture and tempos were dramatic, but always in proportion. The KLR interpretations have admirable balance and continuity.

In the concluding allegretto the pianist Mr. Kalichstein had the biggest part, and he shaped the phrases with changes of touch and attention to pedaling over bar lines. One can’t forget that Beethoven was a virtuoso pianist, and in these variations the composer took a theme bordering on the banal (as he did in the Diabelli and Op. 34 Prometheus Variations) and turned it into precious metal.

Certain iconic works, however old, don’t seem to lose their shock value, with two examples being Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” and Bartok’s Piano Sonata from 1926. Shostakovich’s Trio No. 2 (Op. 67), written in 1944, is one of these. Beginning with extended high register cello harmonics that come out of the ether, the subsequent entrance of the piano immediately confirmed Shostakovich as the author. All memories of the Beethoven were erased. The dissonant themes cried out painfully through violinist Jaime Laredo’s silvery though not overly powerful sound. Mr. Laredo’s skilled spiccato bow danced through the scherzo where the music recalled the Op. 57 Quintet written fours earlier.

Mr. Kalichstein’s majestic piano chords that opened the largo gave a feeling of inexorable sadness and gloom, intensified by rich cello vibrato and two repeated ending chords. The music, sarcastic and somber as it was, faded into a mist. Writing for the cello here presaged the 1959 Shostakovich Cello Concerto.

Thrusting and jabbing phrases characterized the playing of the finale with lots of intense bass chords in the piano. The return of the first-movement’s theme led to a potent march played forcefully by Mr. Laredo and Ms. Robinson, and finally an almost inaudible chord.

Following intermission Brahms’ early B Major Trio, Op. 8, was played. The critical entrance of the violin after the opening beguiling piano-cello statement was perfectly on pitch, and Mr. Laredo’s high register featured a sweet but never a thick sonority. He is a master at subtle small crescendos and diminuendos, many at low volume. The last of the many thematic statements grew to a sculpted and needed ritard just before the allegro con brio’s end.

Spicy piano flourishes and spiccato cello bowing highlighted the scherzo, and the lovely second theme was played in violin and cello unisons. Mr. Laredo’s string harmonic ended the movement. Mr. Kalichstein played elegant phrases in the adagio with echoes of the slow movements of the much later Brahms’ C Minor Piano Quartet, and did something rarely heard – he played solo chords selectively in the right hand a tiny bit ahead of the left-hand chords. It was a fetching effect.

Surging romanticism came to the fore in the finale, with the passion level up. At times Mr. Kalichstein’s sound covered that of his partners, not surprising in a composition of such ardor. He took the bottom octave B chord at the end with a loud swack.

In response to continued applause Mr. Laredo announced an encore, “Summertime” from Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess,” arranged by the film and pop composer Andy Stein. The Trio’s performance was laced with still summer heat, lazy with cut notes and little string slides. The audience loved it.

Nicki Bell contributed to this review.