Home  Reviews  Articles  Calendar  Presenters  Add Event     
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
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Recital
GLOVER'S ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHT'S CINNABAR RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Daniel Glover is arguably the busiest virtuoso pianist in the San Francisco Bay area, but rarely is heard in North Bay concerts. So 90 local pianophiles were anxious to hear him Feb. 17 in Petaluma’s charming small Cinnabar Theater, and they were rewarded with an eclectic program of sometimes unfam...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Valley of the Moon Music Festival / Sunday, July 22, 2018
Augusta McKay Lodge and Susanna Foster, violin; Lauren Nelson, viola; Tanya Tomkins and Madeleine Bouissou, cello; Eric Zivian, Jeffrey LaDeur and Christian De Luca, piano

C. De Luca and M. Bouissou (A. Wasserman Photo)

INNOVATIVE CHAMBER WORKS IN HANNA CENTER CONCERT

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Valley of the Moon Music Festival presented a July 22 concert featuring three giants: Haydn, Schubert and Schumann, composers who altered music of their time with creative innovations and artistic vision.

In the fourth season the Festival’s theme this year is “Vienna in Transition”, and VOM Festival co-founders Cellist Tanya Tomkins and pianist Eric Zivian have created an environment for professional musicians and apprentices to explore masterworks using historic instruments. The periods explored during several summers range from the Baroque, Classical and remarkably also to the Romantic era. Instruments include the fortepiano, strings, woodwinds and also singers. Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center Auditorium is an pleasant venue and local wineries provide wine tasting, making the atmosphere social and festive.

The innovative program commenced with Haydn’s Trio in E Major (H. XV:28), with performers Augusta McKay Lodge, violin, Ms. Tomkins and Mr. Zivian playing a Mozart piano copy. Haydn as innovator had to generate musical ideas on his own because he was isolated at the rural Esterhazy palace in Hungary. The first movement of the trio, Allegro moderato, starts with a smile as all play an unusual pizzicato theme. The music continues with delightful surprises and clever musical wit. The playing was clear, elegant and warmhearted. The second movement opens with an unusually extended piano solo in a dark Baroque style with dramatic right hand obligato melodies covering wide ranges above the bass continuo. In a surprise development, the violin and cello join and reinforce the theme, then leave the fortepiano to complete its journey alone. The playing in finale was a rondo full of light and joy, flirtatious, sometimes teasing. Ms. Lodge’s violin part added rich tone to the cello’s warmth and Zivian played with sparkle, drama and joy. It was a rewarding experience to hear Haydn on these historic instruments.

Schubert composed his Allegro in A Minor, D. 947 (“Lebenssturme”) for piano four hands. Jeffrey LaDeur and Mr. Zivian played this monumental piece on a larger early piano, built in 1841, which has an expanded range from the Mozart-ear instrument. Schubert was a great innovator in form and harmony and virtuoso pianist Alfred Brendel said Schubert was like a “sleepwalker” in harmony progressions that many the Hall’s audience seemed to follow in wonder and belief. This duet strives to be orchestral with its many layers, from poignant melodies to stormy outbursts. The fortepiano was certainly pushed to dynamic extremes and the partners sensitively evoked the mixtures of Viennese pomp and elegance, with the intimate moments juxtaposed with drama and even melodramatic flourishes.

After intermission four young musicians who are Festival apprentices shared from the stage their musical thoughts about the program. Performing Schumann’s E Flat Op. 47 piano quartet were Susanna Foster, violin; violist Lauren Nelson; Madeleine Bouissou, cello, and pianist Christian de Luca. Schumann often broke musical barriers and forged new forms. His compositional daring is remarkable. Constantly changing perspectives can leave one bewildered and intrigued, and always engaged.

The opening sostenuto movement is like sounds being born out of a mist and then the bursts of energetic chords with fast piano solo passages emerge. Here, the instrumental balance was sometimes weighted so strongly to the strings that the beautiful virtuoso piano writing was left in the background. This was very different from modern instrument performances in which one often hears the piano as one complete powerful entity in contrast to the string trio as another entity. This performance sometimes had extremes of rubato that tended to cause distortions of rhythm. The playing the scherzo was wild and sizzled. A very brisk tempo sacrificed clarity to effective diabolic shapes and flickers. In the trios, Ms. Nelson’s viola was beautifully resonant and provided a rich center.

The andante from the 1842 piece, renowned for its romantic melodies, was played with fine ensemble, sometimes delightfully understated, with string sonority emerging gloriously.This was followed by the vivace finale. The quartet was well balanced and played with spirited energy, clear articulation and well-crafted phrasing. It was joyous performance and elicited sustained applause and bravos from the audience!

Nicki Bell contributed to this review.