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Chamber
THREE BEETHOVEN TRIOS BEGUILE AUDIENCE IN FEB. 19 WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Chamber music concerts featuring one composer can be tricky, but the Han/Setzer/Finckel trio made a Feb. 19 Weill Hall audience of 500 hear and to a degree see the boundless creativity of Beethoven. The G Major Trio, Op. 1, No. 2, opened the afternoon’s Beethoven odyssey and one wonders why it is t...
Chamber
AUTHORITATIVE BARTOK HIGHLIGHTS TETZLAFF VIOLIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Christian Tetzlaff’s Feb. 18 violin recital rolled along with lively and fresh readings of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert when the specter of Bartok’s granitic Second Sonata intervened. The sonic shock to the audience of 250 in Weill was palpable. Composed in 1923 the 20-minute two-movement work i...
Symphony
WHAT SOUND DO STAR-CROSSED LOVERS MAKE?
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so the Santa Rosa Symphony feted the occasion by telling and retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet, a tale ever the more poignant during our era of stark divisions. The first telling was from Berlioz; the second from Prokofiev. In between was Brahms’ monu...
Chamber
GOOD OLD WINE IN GOOD OLD BOTTLES AT VOM CONCERT
by Jeff Chan
Saturday, February 11, 2017
February 11 was the first day of sunshine in Sonoma County after nine days of rain, but a nearly full house of music lovers chose to spend their afternoon in Schroeder Hall instead of being outside, soaking up the warm sun. There were two equally compelling reasons to attend this concert, which fea...
Symphony
FUNG TRIUMPHS IN SHOSTAKOVICH CONCERTO WITH VSO
by Elizabeth Warnimont
Sunday, January 29, 2017
The Vallejo Symphony Orchestra presented their season’s second concert Jan. 29 in Vallejo’s Hogan Auditorium, devoted to early Haydn, middle Shostakovich and Beethoven’s ground-breaking “Eroica” Symphony. In remarks to the audiences of nearly 400, Conductor Marc Taddei characterized Haydn’s Sympho...
Chamber
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-Knu...
Symphony
SUBLIME MOZART CLARINET CONCERTO TOPS SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Sonoma County Philharmonic’s long history of featuring soloists from the neighborhood struck gold again Jan. 28 with a ravishing Mozart Clarinet Concerto performance with soloist Roy Zajac. Before an audience of 300 the Santa Rosa High School hall the A Major Concerto (K. 626) unfolded gracefully w...
Recital
RISKY SPEED IN POTENT LUO RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Each half of pianist Wei Luo’s Schroeder Hall recital Jan. 22 contained beguiling interpretations and consummate technical command of Shostakovich and Albeniz works, but each half finished with less than exalted playing. Two of Shostakovich’s Op. 87 Preludes and Fugues opened the recital, from the ...
Recital
COLORFUL SCHUBERT AND CHOPIN WARM WEILL HALL IN AX RECITAL
by Nicki Bell
Friday, January 20, 2017
On a stormy winter evening Jan. 20 a rainbow of colorful Schubert and Chopin music came from the fingers, feet and heart of pianist Emanuel Ax.  Playing at the Weill Hall for the first time, this recital was a tribute to beauty in the arts. It conveyed the value and glory of balance, lyricism and el...
Chamber
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 Schube...
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.