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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...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
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.