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Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
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.