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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, 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.