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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...
RECITAL REVIEW
Redwood Arts Council / Sunday, September 09, 2018
Sonja Myklebust, cello; Abbie Gabrielson, piano

A. Gabrielson and S. Myklebust Acknowledge Applause Sept. 9 in Occidental (J. McNeill photo)

DUO WEST OPENS OCCIDENTAL CONCERT SEASON

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 09, 2018

Before a full house at the Occidental Performing Arts Center Sept. 9 the cello-piano Duo West, playing from score throughout, presented a recital that on paper looked stimulating and thoughtful.

Beginning with MacDowell’s To A Wild Rose (from Woodland Sketches, Op. 51), the transcription by an unannounced arranger made little impact and probably was something novel to most of the audience. An odd choice not explained, but the Fauré D Minor Sonata (Op. 109) that followed was explained by the artists wielding two microphones with an extended interplay of commentary. The audience seemed to enjoy the descriptions of simplistic ideas of contrast in musical composition.

A work from late in the composer’s life, the Sonata’s charms and harmonies are complex and elusive, and cellist Sonja Myklebust’s round sound was well placed for the uneven phrases and unique rhythms. Pianist Abbie Gabrielson had good ensemble with Mr. Myklebust but her playing lacked individuality, and wasn’t helped by the hall’s sub-professional instrument with its wooden sonority and subdued treble.

The Sonata’s best playing was in the lovely andante’s long line and wandering melodies. Bow control here was good and the playing had rich tone in the many modulations. In the finale the duo chose a tempo that was too slow for bringing out the urgency of the music, especially at the end where the momentum in the cello part builds to a joyful climax. The composer’ sobriquet is “Old Arpeggio,” and Ms. Gabrielson added a few inner voices to the delightful swirl of arpeggiated chords.

Before intermission Arvo Pärt’s ten-minute Spiegel im Spiegel was an audience favorite, with Ms. Myklebust’s vibrato widening and the long minimalist exposed line captivating. Cello intonation was very good and the vital clarity of the long-held note changes was excellent. Mild dissonances in the piano part added to the piece’s mystery, with just one blurred cello entry point note and a fetching swelling of vibrato at the concluding fermata. The ovation was long and loud.

Shostakovich’s popular 2nd Sonata, Op.40, came after intermission, and echoed a performance four days earlier at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village Concert Series. In both performances the tempos were on the slow side, diluting the momentum and often sarcasm of the composer. But there is rhapsody in this music, and none of the banality of the cello’s theme in the First Cello Concerto. But Shostakovich does wonders with banal themes, and Ms. Myklebust projected themes alluringly with fine control in pianissimo passages. Pitch was sporadically off when coming down from a high-register quiet notes. There were references here to the composer’s Fourth Symphony, something I had not heard a cellist do before in the D Minor Sonata.

The exciting scherzo was played with an appropriate harshness and again a judicious tempo, leading into the long phrases of the largo. The Duo West gave it a gripping reading, underscoring the dissonances and strange transitions. Sadness trumped melancholy. A program highlight

The finale’s dramatic juxtaposition with the largo followed, with a much lighter instrumental texture, acerbic tunes and a cascade of piano notes.

Ginastera’s Pampeana (Op. 21, No. 2) closed the concert, a bravura work reminiscent of the composer’s Danzes Argentinas. The playing had the right amount of frantic rhythms and heavy textures, but also some leavening fantasy. Repeated phrases and raucous sforzandos from Ms. Gabrielson were telling additions to Ms. Myklebust’s double stops and admirable virtuosity.