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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
Green Music Center / Sunday, April 08, 2018
Victor Romasevich, violin; Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello; Marilyn Thompson, piano

Trio Navarro April 8 in the Green Music Center's Schroeder Hall

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 trios. Well, with three masterpieces in the trio literature, one can’t quibble.

Rachmaninoff’s early G Minor Trio (“Elégiac”) that began the second half was the only work could be said to be uncommon, and the Navarro managed to convey the hothouse but at times lugubrious harmonies in an intense 13-minute span. Similar in many ways to the composer’s 1901 Cello Sonata in the same key, the playing of the Elégiac began with a shimmering non-stopped string sound from violinist Victor Romasevich and cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel. Pianist Marilyn Thompson played the big mid-piece solo forcefully, and it’s a noble theme with lots of notes, all of them good notes. Tempos were generally judicious.

Mendelssohn’s wonderful D Minor Trio, Op. 49, closed the program, and it’s arguably the most performed classical piano trio, and fits the Navarro like an old slipper. As Ms. Brindel set out the noble first theme I thought of how many times she must have played the same notes as a student, in rehearsals and in concerts. One thousand times? Five thousand? In the molto allegro Mr. Romasevich varied his phrasing in repeats, the ensemble was balanced and the D minor key potently presented. String vibrato was deft, limited at times, and wide at times.

In the lovely andante and elfin spritzy scherzo the performance was fluid, especially in the richly poetic andante where the wistful piano line leads into music refined and grateful for each of the instruments. Nothing sounded affected or outsized. The finale (allegro assai) was also impeccably fluid, but I kept listening for more piquant inner voices, as for example in interpretations where on page 41 the performer plays an ascending piano line in triplets with two jolting dissonance chords. Dissonance in Mendelssohn? Rarely from the elegant Navarro in this music, or at least not in this concert.

In a slight programming twist, the afternoon’s major work, Schubert’s B Flat Trio, D. 898, occupied the entire first half. It’s a long work, lyrical and then dramatic at turns, and the opening allegro moderato had a beautiful second theme statement by Ms. Brindel, quickly taken over by Mr. Romasevich. The playing was muscular when needed and the manifold key modulations, lots and lots of them, made the many sections sound fresh. The radiant themes played in the andante surely tugged many listeners’ heartstrings, and recalled Anton Rubinstein’s comment: “Ah, Schubert, eternal sunshine in music.” Schroeder’s stage piano has warmly voiced hammers and Ms. Thompson was everywhere attentive to her partners and their beguiling and florid string lyricism, never covering them.

Listeners looking for an interpretation of old fashioned romanticism, such as the legendary Cortot-Thibaud-Casals recordings of the Schubert and the Mendelssohn, did not find it in the Navarro’s approach. As throughout the afternoon a warm blended sound seemed their goal, with less interest paid to sharply etched instrumental lines, extended ritards or even minimal departures from the printed score.

With the chamber music season ending there is no reason to alter the long past observation that the exalted Navarro is the preeminent resident piano trio in Northern California.