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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
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
KODALY DUO TRUMPS POPULAR MENDELSSOHN TRIO AT SLV CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
It’s not really a secret, but Sonoma County’s best chamber music series is one without much notoriety or publicity. The concerts at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village programs are only for residents and a few invited guests. Impresario Robert Hayden years ago honed his producer skills as founder of ...
Recital
DEMANDING VIOLIN SONATAS CONQUERED BY BEILMAN-WEISS DUO IN SCHROEDER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Violinist Benjamin Beilman’s ravishing Mozart performance at last summer’s Weill Hall ChamberFest finale lured an enthusiastic crowd to Schroeder Hall May 14 to hear if his secure virtuosity was up to a program of demanding sonatas. He did not disappoint. With the powerful pianist Orion Weiss in t...
Symphony
SOVIETS INVADE WEILL HALL, TAKE NO PRISONERS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 07, 2017
Bruno Ferrandis may be French, but he excels in Soviet repertoire. His Slavonic expertise was more than amply demonstrated at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s May 7 concert, where the program began joyfully with Khachaturian’s ballet suite from “Masquerade,” surged forward with Prokofiev’s second violin co...
Recital
MASTERFUL PIANISM IN GOODE'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, May 05, 2017
Pianist Richard Goode programmed an evening of treasures May 5 from four great composers, and is an artist of intimacy and intelligence, power and passion, able to go deep and to soar. Hearing Mr. Goode play this literature was a reminder of how music does indeed bridge worlds and time. Bach’s E m...
Recital
ELEGANT ORGAN SALUTE TO THE REFORMATION
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Organist Jonathan Dimmock presented an April 30 recital in homage to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, playing Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh instrument. Mr. Dimmock is the organist for the San Francisco Symphony, principal organist for the Palace of the Legion of Honor and teaches at...
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.