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Chamber
PERFORMER AS PROMOTER: CLARA SCHUMANN AND MUSICAL SALONS CLOSE VOM FESTIVAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 28, 2019
The July 28 closing performance of the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival could have been subtitled "Friends", as it was devoted to works by both Clara and Robert Schumann, and those of their friends and protégés Brahms and virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim, with whom Clara toured extensively...
Chamber
ROMANTIC CHAMBER WORKS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 27, 2019
Now in its 5th season the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented July 27 a concert titled “My Brilliant Sister,” featuring Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s compositions for combinations of voice, fortepiano and strings. Fanny and her brother Felix were close, and Felix occasionally published ...
Symphony
ROMANTIC DREAMS AT THE MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kayleen Asbo
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Romanticism, contrary to many popular perceptions, wasn’t simply about diving into the habitat of the heart. Romanticism began as a literary movement that elevated the power of nature as a transcendent force and sought with keen nostalgia to rediscover the wisdom of the past. The Romantics in both l...
Chamber
CHAUSSON CONCERTO SHINES IN A VISIONARY'S SALON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Ernest Chausson’s four-movement Concerto in D Major for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet (1891) is neither concerto nor sonata nor symphony, but it somehow manages to be all three, especially when played with fire and conviction by an accomplished soloist. Those incendiary and emotional elements w...
Chamber
EUROPEAN SALON MUSIC CAPTIVATES AT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Two stunning programs of 19th and 20th century chamber music were presented on July 21 and 28 as part of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival at the Hanna Center in Sonoma. Festival founders and directors pianist Eric Zivian and cellist Tanya Tompkins were both on hand to contribute brilliantly at ...
Chamber
ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL COMBINATIONS IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 20, 2019
A Lovely summer afternoon in Sonoma Valley, an excellent small concert hall, enthusiastic audience, exciting musicians and creative programming with interesting story lines. All these were combined July 20 at a Valley of the Moon Festival concert titled “An Italian in Paris.” This is the fifth seaso...
Opera
'ELIXIR' A WELCOME TONIC IN SPRIGHTLY ANNUAL MMF OPERA
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 19, 2019
In most of the Mendocino Music Festival’s 33 seasons a single evening is given over to a staged opera, with bare bones sets, lighting, costumes, minimal cast and short length. No Wagner or Verdi here, no multiple acts and complicated production demands. Light and frothy are the usual, and so it wa...
Recital
PUNGENT WALTZES AND VIRTUOSITY IN LADEUR'S SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
San Francisco based pianist Jeffrey LaDeur has become one of the most sought-after North Bay virtuosi, and cemented that reputation July 17 in a short but eclectic recital in Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village Chamber Music Series. Before 140 in the Village’s auditorium Mr. LaDeur began with Schubert...
Choral and Vocal
NOBLE BRAHMS REQUIEM PERFORMANCE CLOSES SONOMA BACH'S SEASON
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 01, 2019
Sonoma Bach, conducted by Robert Worth, presented a truly grand finale to their 2018-19 "Light Out of Darkness" season in two sold out Schroeder Hall performances June 1 and 2. The program "A Human Requiem" was received rapturously with a well-deserved standing ovation for the main work, Brahms' ...
Chamber
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six song...
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.