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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...
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...
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...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
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...
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.