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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’...
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 they seem to be on almost ever...
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 REVIEW
Valley of the Moon Music Festival / Saturday, March 31, 2018
VOM Festival Musicians: Tanya Tomkins, cello; Monica Huggett violin; Eric Zivian, piano.

Monica Huggett, Tanya Tomkins, Eric Zivian March 31 in Schroeder Hall

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 Schroeder Hall.

The concert was the second in a series, and titled “The Little Orchestra.” As in past performances, a piano from the abbreviated period of the programmed music (1788-1802) was used, and the bowed instruments used gut rather than steel strings. This is standard fare for the VOM musicians, at their summer Sonoma Festival and at sporadic winter and spring season concerts in Northern California.

Often the lack of a modern concert grand and reduced string thematic projection are a sonic concern, but this afternoon I found the ensemble was balanced and the Schroeder acoustics warm and complimentary to the audience of 125.

Prior to the opening Mozart’s C Major Trio received Ms. Huggett’s remarks from the stage depicted the era of the afternoon’s works, and were concise and at turns humorous. So different from the fluff of many preconcert speeches. The K. 548 Trio received a lovely performance, though often the cello part was subsidiary and an occasional “extra voice” was given to Mr. Zivian’s piano line. Ms. Huggett doesn’t possess a commanding violin tone, and all day her intonation, especially at initial attacks, wandered off pitch. That said, her style and approach to Mozart and the Haydn G Major “Gypsy” trio that followed I found beguiling and irresistible.

The Haydn, from 1795, was more of the same lyrical simplicity, fast in the Hungarian Rondo finale. It’s that kind of work, and the brisk tempo with felicitous dynamic control from all three performers brought the first half to a close.

Ms. Huggett again addressed the audience prior to her and Mr. Zivian’s performance of Beethoven’s A Minor, Sonata, Op. 23, in three movements. Playing as throughout the concert from score, the violinist gave a warm and sometimes restrained reading, holding the bow (as did Ms. Tomkins) well up from the frog. She had inventive phrasing and in the andante scherzoso caught the composer’s humor during the quasi-fugal parts. Mr. Zivian provided excellent support, and never covered the violin, though his instrument has limited tonal sustain from the use of the knee-actuated damper pedal. The finale, similar in drama and ending to Beethoven’s “Tempest” Piano Sonata in D minor, explored distant keys and the performance was a highlight of the concert.

Hummel’s music is a stranger to the North Coast, but recently the Tilden Trio played a fine E Flat Major, Op. 93, at Dominican University in San Rafael, and the VOM Trio closed the concert with F Major Trio, Op. 22. The cello is used in novel ways in the piece. Here they used more rubato than in the Haydn and Mozart, and the theme and variations in the andante were elegantly performed, with a unison ending for three instruments. Mr. Zivian’s commanded fast scales here and in the more forceful final movement, played off the “Czardas” and gypsy rhythm inflections from Ms. Huggett. Well, the composer, though certainly cosmopolitan, was Hungarian.

Audience applause was robust, no encore ensued, and as at seemingly each VOM concert a gratis reception was provided in the Hall’s lobby with provocative conversations with the musicians.