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Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
CHAMBER REVIEW

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.