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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...
Symphony
PEACE AND LOVE FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 04, 2018
Before the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 4 performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” Symphony CEO Alan Silow took a moment to acknowledge the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack and to observe that music offers a more peaceful and loving view of the world. Mr. ...
Chamber
ATOS TRIO IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 04, 2018
When the ATOS Piano Trio planned their all-Russian touring program at their Berlin home base, it had a strong elegiac, even tragic theme that surely resonated with their Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience Nov. 4 in Mill Valley. Comprised of Annette von Hehn, violin; Thomas Hoppe, piano; and...
Chamber
ATOS TRIO IN OCCIDENTAL CHAMBER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 03, 2018
When the Berlin-based ATOS Piano Trio entered the cramped Occidental Performing Arts stage Nov. 3, the audience of 100 anticipated familiar works in the announced all-Russian program. What they got was a selection of rarely-plays trios, with a gamut of emotions. Then one-movement Rachmaninoff G Mi...
Symphony
MIGHTY SHOSTAKOVICH 10TH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Just two works were on the opening program of the Marin Symphony’s 67th season Oct. 28, Tchaikovsky’s iconic D Major Violin Concerto, and Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony. Before a full house in the Marin Center Auditorium conductor Alasdair Neale set a judicious opening tempo in the brief orchestra i...
Symphony
VIVALDI FOR ALL SEASONS IN WEILL BAROQUE CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, October 27, 2018
The Venice Baroque Orchestra, a dozen superb musicians that include strings, harpsichord and recorder, played an uplifting concert Oct. 27 of mostly Vivaldi sinfonias and concertos. The Weill Hall audience of 600 had rapt attention throughout, and the playing was of the highest musical level. This r...
Recital
LIN'S PIANISM AND PERSONA CHARM SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 21, 2018
In somewhat of a surprise a sold out Schroeder Hall audience greeted pianist Steven Lin Oct. 21 in his local debut recital. Why a surprise? Because Mr. Lin was pretty much unknown in Northern California, and Schroeder is rarely, very rarely sold out for a single instrumentalist. But no matter, and...
Chamber
HEROIC TRUMPET AND ORGAN MUSIC AT INCARNATION
by Jerry Dibble
Friday, October 12, 2018
The strong connections between Santa Rosa’s musical community and California State University Chico were on display Oct. 12 as David Rothe, Professor Emeritus in the Chico Music Department, and Ayako Nakamura, trumpet with the North State Symphony, presented a concert titled “Heroic Music for Trumpe...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Valley of the Moon Music Festival / Saturday, July 28, 2018
Monica Huggett and Rachell Wong, violin; Marc Schachman, oboe; Sadie Glass, horn; Andrew Gonzalez, viola; Christian de Luca, fortepiano; Kate Van Orden, bassoon; Eric Hoeprich, clarinet; Tanya Tomkins, cello; Eric Zivian, piano. Apprentices TBA

Violinist Monica Huggett

PRAGUE AND VIENNA PALACE GEMS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 28, 2018

The remarkable Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented a concert called “Kinsky Palace” July 28 on their final Festival weekend in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. Two well-known treasures and one lesser gem were programmed.

Starting the afternoon offerings were violinist Monica Huggett and Festival apprentice fortepianist Christian De Luca performing Beethoven’s Violin Sonata Op. 24 (“Spring”). This Sonata, as Ms. Huggett told the audience in humorous and lively introductory remarks, has exemplary violin writing, and she gave a nuanced and spirited performance with liquid scales and lyrical tone in profusion. Violin and fortepiano traded themes, intertwined, contrasting and reinforcing each other. The two parts were always clear and balanced in the opening allegro. The second movement was played with heartfelt tenderness and the forward-moving tempo supported masterful melody shaping. Then the intensely rhythmical and cleverly syncopated scherzo was delightfully played. The final rondo was played with careful matching of articulation and beautiful phrase shaping. The main theme appeared in different guises and myriad delightful forms. The audience gave this performance a standing ovation and bravos.

Hummel’s Clarinet Quartet in E-Flat Major (S. 78) followed. Erich Hoeprich, on an historic replica clarinet he crafted, joined 2018 Laureates Rachel Wong, violin, violist Andrew Gonzalez and Festival co-founder Tanya Tomkins on the cello. Hummel was a Mozart and Haydn protégé and in this Quartet of about 28 minutes he integrates the clarinet into the chamber group rather than contrasting the wind sound against the strings, a remarkable achievement of the composer and of these performers.

The first movement (allegro moderato has a charming opening, the themes being traded with classical clarity reminiscent of Mozart. The music is vibrant and bubbly, and has some mystery and changeable moods of passion and drama. All the while the instrumental voices interacted and created a unified sound rather than flights of individualism. The second movement was in tarantella style, played with precision and outstanding wild passages, especially from the cello. The andante third movement featured playing of lovely legato phrases. The mood was pleasant and the interpretation was beautifully understated. The rondo was full of musical gestures of the Classical Period. Particularly effective were passages pairing the violin and viola and the continual blending of clarinet and strings. This Hummel Quartet from 1807 certainly could inspire listeners to become acquainted with more of his compositions. Once again there was a standing ovation.

After the intermission Beethoven’s unique piano/woodwind quintet, Opus 16, was performed by Marc Schachman, oboe; Mr. Hoeprich, hornist Sadie Glass; Kate van Orden, bassoon; and Festival pianist Eric Zivian. This piece was inspired by Mozart’s quintet for the same ensemble and in fact, Mozart seemed to be an unseen inspiring presence throughout the afternoon. Beethoven’s opening (grave) was rhythmical and crisp, the piano exhibiting its power without competing with or overpowering the wind ensemble. This led into an allegro of relaxed spontaneity and large gestures, occasionally evoking dreamy worlds. Modern instruments can make this writing sound like a piano concerto, but here it was a fresh collaborative sound. An extramusical moment of drama was the breaking of a fortepiano string, but Mr. Zvian assured the audience that the music could be carried on with the note’s remaining string.

The andante movement is certainly one of the most beautiful pieces in chamber music repertoire. The fortepiano opening theme was very expressive and led to the wind instruments reiteration with their full and forceful tone. Thereafter each instrument was featured in a solo: Mr. Schachman’s rich oboe tone, Ms. van Orden’s mellow bassoon, the distinctive colors of horn and clarinet all singing out, then all rising on a chromatic tide together to bring back the fortepiano with new elegant ornamentation. The third movement is a rondo romp with typical hunting horn harmonies, tossing of ideas back and forth, with phrases calling for play, dance, and to rejoice. The tempo was well chosen and the music was performed straightforward, direct and full of optimism.

A reception with wine and happy company concluded the afternoon of a musical visit to the world of palaces in Vienna and Prague of the 18th century. Bravos to Valley of the Moon Festival musicians! “Aufwiedersehen” next summer.