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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
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 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.