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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...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
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 REVIEW
Redwood Arts Council / Saturday, November 03, 2018
Atos Trio. Annette Von Hehn. violin; Stefan Heinemeyer, cello; Thomas Hope, piano

ATOS Piano Trio Nov. 3 At the Occidental Performing Arts Center (J. McNeill photo)

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 Minor Trio, Op. Post, opened the music and the Trio caught the surging Romantic themes, first warmly set out by cellist Stefan Heinemeyer. Attacks were clean throughout, though the sub-professional stage piano contributed to fast but blurred scale playing from pianist Thomas Hoppe.

Mr. Hoppe’s strong playing continued into a performance of Arensky’s D Minor Trio, Op. 32, and a work that has been a personal favorite since a Pennario-Heifetz-Piatigorsky concert long ago in Los Angeles. Subsequently the Borodin Trio’s recording set the standard, and our local Trio Navarro has specialized in the Arensky 1st. The opening theme had great nobility, with a gentle throbbing richness from violinist Annette von Hehn. Ms. Von Hehn took the repeat of the opening theme at reduced volume and with a delicate ritard, exactly the thing to do in this music, but during the evening she often didn’t take notes squarely and occasional pitch variation popped up. High register string sound was admirable in both the cello and violin.

The scherzo was played at a brisk tempo but in Mr. Hoppe’s speedy scales individual notes were lost. The interjecting “palm court” theme had a charming waltz character, and admirable spiccato bow from cello and violin.

Mr. Heinemeyer broadened his already broad vibrato in the elegia’s opening theme, swelling beautifully on individual notes and showed deft control of pianissimo. In the finale the string unison pizzicato was perfection, and the entire movement’s playing was muscular and convincing.

Beginning the second half were three folks dances, Op. 13b, by the Russian Alexander Weprik. They passed quickly but not without notice, especially the first and third with bottom register cello support and often raucous and blaring peasant rhythms. The lyrical second waltz had a banal theme that wound in and out of all three instruments, but was alluring and ended in a whisper. An effective work.

Shostakovich’s Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 67, begins in an eerie upper register string murmur, and is difficult to accurately mesh the instruments, with the violin and cello lines far apart and strange harmonies all about. The main theme was played with a ringing sound, and the ending of the andante – moderato had a sarcastic character in even string tempo. An authoritative reading.

Playing in the scherzo was slashing and intense, with contrasting staccato phrases that morphed to light gaiety and thumping chords and swirls of sound. Mr. Hoppe’s opening chords in the largo were played with the shift pedal and the sad lament was in a way just as intense as the music of the scherzo. There were many powerful but simple chords, six seconds apart, that were unique and masterfully played.

A cascade of anguished sonority was heard in the finale allegretto, a menacing movement leavened by short folk-music phrases and quiet double-stops from Ms. von Hehn. Some parts of the interpretation seemed comedic and even mechanical, but with dark contours. There was little letup in the anxious momentum, and Mr. Hoppe’s strong right-hand tremolos led to a subdued conclusion.

There was no encore offered, and applause was muted, presumably due not to the level of performance but to such disturbing music.