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Chamber
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 08, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
Choral and Vocal
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
Chamber
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
Chamber
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
Chamber
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 09, 2020
The Feb. 9 performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony offered a healthy dose of 21st century music firmly bound to the 19th. Matt Browne’s first symphony, “The Course of Empire”—based on a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School of American painting in the 1820s—emp...
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 02, 2020
Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert. In his eighth conducting season with the So C...
Symphony
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 01, 2020
The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, gave a concert of enormous energy and emotional impact on Feb.1 to a small audience in Weill Hall. This orchestra has been a major cultural force in Poland since 1949, playing under many renowned conductors and has been committed to pr...
Opera
EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT
by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 2020
“Beautiful, strange, and unnatural…” said orchestra conductor Thomas Conlin when speaking of the tenor voice. One of the coveted voice types of the opera world, the tenor voice is known for it’s piercing tones and soaring, unnatural high notes. The iconic image of the Pagliacci clown (in the famed...
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.