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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 / 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.