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Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
CHAMBER REVIEW

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 3, 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.