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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, March 05, 2017
Miró Quartet: Daniel Ching and William Fedkenheuer, violin; John Largess, viola; Joshua Gindele, cello. Anne Marie McDermott, piano

Miró Quartet

CONSUMMATE ENSEMBLE FROM THE MIRÓ IN WEILL

by Sonia Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Sunday, March 05, 2017

A March 5 Weill hall audience of 350 leaned in to share an intimate musical space and to hear the Miró String Quartet’s sterling concert.

Starting with Haydn's Op. 20, No. 4, the four musicians seemed to want listeners to be enveloped in their music. The Miró plays with the feat of being four distinct individuals with a shared sensibility. Certainly the joy of their playing and of their musical companionship is made an uplifting musical experience. The first movement started with mysterious tone colors and a drum motif that moved the music to unexpected harmonic fields and juxtaposed playfulness with serious character. The pairs of duets among the four strings were balanced and carefully shaped, allowing inner voices to sing in the ensemble. The composer here created a sense of time which is simultaneously fast and leisurely. Phrase endings melted into silence effortlessly.

The second un poco adagio affettuoso movement was played delicately and featured a variety of solos lines in the minor variations. The first was a dialogue between second violin William Fedkenheur and violist John Largess, then an expansive cello variation (Joshua Grindele) followed by dancing triplets from violinist Daniel Ching.

Leading to the end, Haydn provides pianissimo moments leaning into intense dissonances with startling accents and drama.  The allegretto was jolly and full of mischief, the players almost moving to a syncopated dance, interrupted by a lyrical cello interlude, and then tumbled headlong to the final movement. The presto scherzando had ongoing surprises. It started and stopped, became a celebration of gypsy fiddling energy, and sometimes was a concerto with violin solos and was always capricious and vibrant and then came a sudden exuberant ending.

The Brahms C Minor Quartet, Opus 51, No. 1, closed the first half and burst forth with drama and fire. The agitated character of the work is carried in restless fast rhythms, leaping octaves and overlapping voices, searching and frenzied. This is an orchestral world carried by only four string players. The first movement had a frenzied disorder and came to a peaceful resolution in C Major. The second movement (romanze) had a pastoral feel, punctuated by horn calls and restless sections being drawn into the original repose. After a long and beautiful silence where the audience maintained the quiet suspense, the playing in the third movement wove a restless tapestry of shifting minor keys, somewhere between song and dance, neither fast nor slow, and often polyphonic and chromatic. The players produced the sunniness of children's songs in the ambient darkness.

The final allegro movement has strong musical ties to the first movement, but is much more positive in treatment of those motifs. The virtuosic power of composition and of performance was transformative. There was great power and exquisite sweetness. Throughout, the Miró musicians reinforced each other and their interactions brought the joy of their bringing great music to life.

After an intermission, pianist Anne-Marie McDermott joined the Miró for Schumann's Piano Quintet, Op. 44, composed in 1842. Schumann was one of the first composers to combine a string quartet with a piano. This quintet opens with celebratory chord flourishes followed by wistful melodic moments repeated often in the piano. Balance here was excellent, quite a feat for this hall and the challenges of large chamber ensembles. Ms. McDermott had beautiful dynamic control and articulation, bending the rhythms with rubatos for expressive nuance, elegantly supported by her attentive partners.

The second movement was a hushed funeral march in C Minor, changing to poignant lament with otherworldly piano accompaniment, then diabolical cries of anguish and finally resumption of the march in quiet acceptance. Choices of tempo allowed the different moods to speak clearly. The following scherzo was taken at a fiery tempo, one that allowed some loss of detail in the second trio. It was always melodramatic and led with energetic gesture to the last movement. It started with noble musical mood in a slavic influenced theme. There were sighs in the strings, rumbles in the piano, unique syncopated passages and playful interweaving of piano and strings. Near the end, the forward motion stops abruptly, and the piano returns to the opening theme and an exciting double fugue leads to the triumphant ending.

The Schumann had the audience standing for ovations. No encore was given.