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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
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...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Mill Valley Chamber Music Society / Sunday, November 04, 2018
ATOS Piano Trio. Annette von Hehn, violin; Stefan Heinemyer, cello; Thomas Hoppe, piano

ATOS Piano Trio Nov. 4 in Mill Valley (A. Wasserman photo)

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 cellist Stefan Heinemeyer, the Trio opened with Rachmaninoff’s Trio élégiaque in G minor, No. 1. Rachmaninoff wrote the piece during his graduation year at Moscow Conservatory but didn’t assign it an opus number, and only performed it once, at his graduation recital. It wasn’t published until 1947, four years after his death, yet it’s an affecting work, alternatively sorrowful and passionate, with lovely themes. In its ten-minute duration it managed to suggest many stages of grief.

As the sole movement lento lugubre begins, a luminous yet agitated tremolo in the strings is joined by the piano stating a simple and sad melody which will be passed back and forth many times. It rises to passionate anguish in a keening duet of the violin and cello. Mr. Heinemeyer’s cello sound was extraordinarily resonant. Ms. von Hehn’s honey-colored violin sound blended sweetness and delicacy, and Mr. Hoppe’s pianism was bell-like, rapid fire and thunderous in sequence. In the funeral march that takes the work to its quiet conclusion, the pianist played broken chords that imitated a drumbeat, while the violin and cello wove a spell incorporating the theme, now separate, now in unison. Finally a quiet resignation was reached. When Rachmaninoff wrote this piece he may have been inspired by Tchaikovsky’s own piano trio lamenting the death of their mutual friend, Nikolai Rubenstein. Rachmaninoff wrote a second Trio Elégiaque after Tchaikovsky’s death in 1893.

Arensky’s glorious first Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 32, followed, and was composed in memory of cellist Karl Davidov. In the allegro moderato movement the violin states a theme aching with yearning, and is answered by the cello and piano, and an eloquent conversation ensues that continues through the movement and ends in a restatement of the theme. Mr. Heinemeyer’s phrasing was exemplary and the voice of his cello filled the hall. At times I wished Ms. von Hehn would take a stronger lead, but she often moderated her tone to fit with the others.

The second movement, scherzo: allegro molto, is effervescent as sparkling cider. The piano plays an oompah rhythm, suggestive of a carnival, then the strings play a stuttering pizzicato, and the whole is dance-like. There was a lovely gaiety to the movement. In the third movement (elegia: adagio) the musicians created a mood of radiant stillness. The audience in the Mt. Tamalpais United Methodist Church was very quiet as the strings shimmered and Mr. Hoppe’s phrasing stated the themes. The violin and cello blended in a shared expression of sorrow and a brief funeral march ended the movement. The fourth movement, finale: allegro non troppo, brought the work to a stirring conclusion with purpose and vigor.

Three Folk Dances by Alexander Veprik (1899-1958) followed the intermission. Veprik, a professor and then Dean at the Moscow Conservatory, was an important member of the Society for Jewish Music in the 1920s, and his Jewish-influenced music enjoyed popularity inside and outside of Russia from the 1920s. He wrote his Folk Dances, Op. 13b for both piano and piano trio.

In the first allegro moderato movement Ms. von Hehm had a bold, strong tone, while in the second dance, lento, an elegiac lament, her tone was light and golden. Mr. Heinemeyer’s rich, dark tone complemented the violinist’s delicate sound. The third dance, a minor key allegro, is the most oriental of the three, with unexpected dissonance in the final bars.

The ATOS then gave a reading of great emotion and depth to Shostakovich’s Piano Trio in E minor, Op. 67. Written in 1944, it is dedicated to the memory of his closest friend, musicologist Ivan Sollertinsky. As explained in the excellent program notes, Shostakovich was deeply influenced by Jewish music and knew firsthand the sufferings of his Jewish friends under the Soviet dictator Stalin. The music thrums with intimations of terror, displacement and death. The first andante movement opens with eerie harmonics in the strings, joined by the lone voice of the piano. The pulse of the music quickens, as if in a chase, as inexorable forces seem to descend.

The scherzosecond movement roils like a hive of angry wasps before breaking into a wild dance, with stunning rapid fire playing by all. The third movement, largowas in turns dissonant, insistent, and mournful, with the cello and violin in close harmony. Movement four,allegretto-adagio, was played by the ATOS viscerally, describing in notes a time so bleak and turbulent that I wondered if others in the Church were feeling as I did, or if people were restive in the gloom.

The answer came when after the last notes of the funeral march that ends the composition faded. The audience sat silently until at last the musicians lowered their bows, and they rose as one to give a prolonged standing ovation.