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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 it seems to be on almost every...
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
TRIO NAVARRO'S POPULAR FARE IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Long time Classical Sonoma readers may recall many Trio Navarro concert reviews that lauded their virtuosity and interest in rarely played repertoire. The April 8 concert in Schroeder Hall before 85 chamber music fans featured sterling performances but had a mostly conservative menu of popular trio...
Recital
KENNER'S ALL POLISH RECITAL HAS PADEREWSKI RARITY
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Kevin Kenner’s April 8 recital at Dominican University’s Angelico Hall had been advertised as all-Chopin, but he added a detour into another seminal Polish composer-pianist, Paderewski. Several of Mr. Kenner’s teachers were Poles, he speaks Polish, and he navigated at the piano both composers’ deman...
Symphony
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE VOICE AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, April 08, 2018
In an April 8 Santa Rosa Symphony concert filled to the brim with instruments--electric violin, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard samplers, harps, piano and myriad drums, gongs and bells, to say nothing of winds, brass and strings--the instrument that came out on top was the hum...
Chamber
VOM FESTIVAL TRIO CHARMS WITH CHAMBER MIX, AND HUMMEL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 31, 2018
At the core of the group of Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) musicians is an ensemble of trios and duos, and as a trio March 31 Festival founders cellist Tanya Tomkins and pianist Eric Zivian joined British violinist Monica Huggett for a chamber music concert in the Green Music Center’s Schro...
Choral and Vocal
GOOD FRIDAY REQUIEM FILLS INCARNATION
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 30, 2018
Maurice Duruflé’s short and intense Requiem has been heard in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation before, but the March 30 Good Friday performance was stripped down in the number of performers, combining Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir with musical underpinning from organist Robert Youn...
Symphony
HAMELIN'S HUSKY MOOD IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Convention in piano recitals has the artist coming on stage and playing. Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin walked on Schroeder Hall’s stage March 25 and didn’t play for six minutes, chatting with the audience. A risk for some artists. Then most programs include a contemporary or rarely play...
Recital
VIRTUOSIC VARIATIONS IN MORGAN'S SCHROEDER ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Organist Robert Huw Morgan’s artistry spun through the web of early variation form in a Mar. 18 recital on Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh organ. Mr. Morgan, Stanford University’s resident organist, performs a wide range of repertoire, but as he said in comments to the audience, he loves when h...
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.