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Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
Chamber
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Recital
GLOVER'S ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHT'S CINNABAR RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Daniel Glover is arguably the busiest virtuoso pianist in the San Francisco Bay area, but rarely is heard in North Bay concerts. So 90 local pianophiles were anxious to hear him Feb. 17 in Petaluma’s charming small Cinnabar Theater, and they were rewarded with an eclectic program of sometimes unfam...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
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.