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Chamber
VANHAL QUARTET AT VOM FESTIVAL DISCOVERY AT HANNA CENTER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 15, 2018
A near-capacity crowd of 220 filled the Sonoma Hanna Boys Center Auditorium July 15 for the opening concert of the fourth Valley of the Moon Music Festival. This Festival presents gems of the Classical and early Romantic periods performed on instruments of the composer’s era, which presents a few ch...
Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
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’...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Saturday, November 11, 2017
Tetzlaff Quartet. Christian Tetzlaff and Elizabeth Kufferath, violin; Hanna Weinmeister, viola; Tanja Tetzlaff, cello

Tetzlaff Quartet

TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017

German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart.

Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapuntal clarity was in the forefront of their performance of Mozart’s E-Flat Major Quartet, K. 428. All of Mr. Tetzlaff’s trademarks were on display here: small ritards in the high register that drop quickly into decrescendo and chaste phrasing again high up that drops to pianissimo and hands the themes to colleagues. His musical partners were exemplary all night: Elizabeth Kufferath, violin; Hanna Weinmeister, viola; and cellist Tanja Tetzlaff.

Placing Ms. Tetzlaff stage left (unlike the Quartet’s photos and YouTube appearances) gave hefty but precise low string weight to the ensemble, and she played elegantly all evening. The romantic mood of the opening allegro was captured, and the Quartet had impeccable control of pianissimo in the quiet repeated four-note phrases. The andante and menuetto were equally well played, and Mr. Tetzlaff’s spiccato bow was nimble and the contrasting moods of the short trio were perfectly shaped.

The boisterous finale found Mr. and Ms. Tetzlaff in delicious duos with ample virtuosity and Mozartian insight. Always impressive was the way each instrument in the blend could grow the music in intensity, reminiscent of Haydn’s Quartets, from every volume level. It was a brilliant and mature interpretation.

Berg’s two-movement Quartet, Op. 3, closed the first half. This is a complex 20-minute contrapuntal work from 1910, atonal and full of leaps in the melodic lines. Ms. Weinmeister opened the piece with a touching lament and the entering strings used portamento effectively. Much of the playing underscored the shrill aspects of Berg’s music, though the Tetzlaff’s dynamic flexibility and ability to play soft and fading phrase endings diluted some of the strident string tone. Knotty rhythms were mastered in the finale, and Ms., Tetzlaff’s big cello statement in the coda seemed effortless, which of course in this music it was not.

Following intermission Schubert’s G Major Quartet (No. 15, D. 887) comprised the entire second half. It’s the composer’s last and longest quartet, and arguably the most difficult to keep together over its 45-minute duration. Stamina on the Tetzlaff, and certainly some in the audience of 350, is required. It was a wonderful performance and the Tetzlaff didn’t evidence a moment of fatigue. Their opening grabbed attention in a way that was almost orchestral in texture. Viola and Ms. Kufferath’s genteel violin line and tremolos paired with Mr. Tetzlaff’s interjecting notes and phrases to form sharp contrasts – elegiac background and often wild sound flights. The Quartet effortlessly and subtlety changed tempos throughout, surely needs in Schubert’s Quartets.

The scherzo was played at a judicious tempo with a lively but never frivolous charm. Here the composer has written many false cadences, and always he seems to have another idea to present. The lilting waltz theme was enticingly rendered with seductive charm, driving to a fast ending led by Mr. Tetzlaff’s magical bow and fingers. The repeats in the concluding allegro vivace each had a slightly different character, another seemingly standard feature of this ensemble’s magisterial control and technical finish.

Programing the protracted Schubert was a savvy choice, as chamber music aficionados were rewarded with a masterful performance that was in the end spiritual and fully encompassed the composer’s genius.