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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...
Symphony
ALEXANDER TORADZE DELIVERS A LESSON IN SERENITY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 05, 2019
An entire concerto movement consisting of serene piano melodies over a soothing backdrop is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when seeing Shostakovich’s name on an orchestra program, but that’s exactly what pianist Alexander Toradze delivered--twice--at Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony c...
Symphony
MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON CLOSES WITH AUTUMNAL ELGAR AND THEATRICAL BEETHOVEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Mozart’s enchanting Overture to his opera The Magic Flute, a miniature tapestry of gems from the 1791 work, opened the Marin Symphony’s final concert of the 2018-2019 season. Under conductor Alasdair Neale, the playing of the sprightly seven-minute piece by a reduced-size classical ensemble sparkled...
Recital
SHAHAM-EGUCHI DUO'S EXCITING MUSICAL GENEROSITY IN WEILL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, April 26, 2019
Violinist Gil Shaham may be the most modest virtuoso on the concert stage today, and it is the great music he most wishes to put forward, never himself. Generosity, a quality he is known for, was abundantly clear in Weill Hall April 26 when he performed, with pianist Akira Eguchi, a generous program...
Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
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.