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Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
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 REVIEW
Valley of the Moon Music Festival / Saturday, January 27, 2018
Eric Vivian, piano; Tanya Tomkins, cello; Eric Hoeprich, clarinet; Catherine Manson, violin and viola

Eric Zivian and Eric Hoeprich Jan. 27 in Schroeder Hall (M. Moritz Photo)

VIVID GERMAN ROMANTICISM IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT IN SCHROEDER

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 27, 2018

Though not new to Sonoma County, the Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) concerts are relatively recent in the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall. So the first of three spring concerts Jan. 27 provided a picture of what’s in the repertoire leading up to their Festival this summer at Sonoma’s Hanna Center.

Cellist and VOM cofounder Tanya Tomkins opened the concert with remarks to the audience about 19th century musical romanticism as it centered on the world of Robert Schumann. The afternoon’s first music was Gade’s Op. 43 Fantasias for clarinet and piano, and the three short movements were “echt” German Schumann lyricism in a beguiling performance by clarinetist Eric Hoeprich and pianist Eric Zivian. Mr. Hoeprich alternated crisp scales in the allegro vivace with yearning lyricism. This lush music was beautifully played, and soared in the ballade-moderato.

Two Schuman works followed, the Op. 132 “Märchenerzählungen” from 1854, and the more popular “Fantasiestücke,” Op. 73. The First (Fairy Tales) has four movements and uses piano, clarinet and the viola of guest artist Catherine Manson. Ms. Manson has a pure sound but tended to underplay and was occasionally covered by the piano and wind lines. Highlights were the lovely clarinet-viola duets with fast broken chords in the opening Lebhaft nich zu Schnell and Mr. Zivian’s rhapsodic playing of octaves and strong chords in the Lebhaft, sehr markiert finale. An outpouring of delicious warmth!

Concluding the first half were the three Op. 73 pieces, each one featuring a cello, clarinet or viola. Lyricism was again at the fore with these richly hued pieces, played as throughout the concert from score. Mr. Hoeprich’s instrument had the greatest projection, and the performers deftly chased each other’s phrases. There were no extended ritards and tempos were brisk, especially in the Lebhaft, leicht.

During intermission Mr. Hoeprich spoke to the audience about the 1841 piano on stage, and it’s applicability to the colorful Schumann harmonies. The sound he described was accurate, albeit with an often-muddy bass register, but the instrument didn’t pair well with the Brahms C Major Trio (Op. 87) in the second half. By the 1880s when Brahms wrote the Op. 87 work overstrung iron frame instruments were standard in Europe, including Blüthner, Grotrian, Schröder, Becker and preeminently Bechstein. Missing in the four movements was bass register clarity and a singing top end, as well as tonal strength.

But there were felicities in the inspired reading of the allegro moderato with sonorous string chords and contrasts with the piano part. Ms. Tomkins and Ms. Manson often had a “q and a” combination, and the three chords ending the andante were sumptuous. The scherzo featured lots of unison string playing and elegant phrasing, with echoes of the composer’s 1889 D Minor Violin Sonata.

The finale had references to the themes of the first movement and moved from spiccato bow work to big trio climaxes. Brahms' last movements, unlike lesser trio composers of the time (Rubinstein, Bruch, Taneyev, Gade, Lalo), are as good as his first movements.

Applause from the 105 attending was strong, but no encore was offered.