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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
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.