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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
Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series / Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Lincoln Trio. Desíree Ruhstrat, violin; David Cunliffe, cello; Marta Asnavoorian, piano

Lincoln Trio Nov. 7 at Spring Lake Village with Robert Hayden

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 Lincoln played an abbreviated program of four works, beginning with a short “Silver Dagger”, composed for them by Stacy Garrop. Pianist Marta Asnavoorian’s tapping the strings from above started the short, atmospheric work that featured Desíree Ruhstrat’s violin line sliding in and out of notes in the high register, and cellist David Cunliff playing an often drone-like underpinning and a slow dissonant folk tune wound around pedal point piano phrase. Curiously the work didn’t sound contemporary.

Fauré’s D Minor Trio, Op. 120, followed, and though not contemporary it was at the first notes of the allegro full of softly swirling echt harmonies and rhythms that one knew it was the product the French master. Fine ensemble playing was heard and the Lincoln built the many small climaxes deftly, with often modulations seamlessly unfolding. Beautiful playing followed in the andantino where Ms. Asnavoorian played the cantando espressivo theme with charming grace and didn’t cover her colleagues. The Lincoln captured the yearning sad character of the movement.

Ms. Ruhstrat and Mr. Cunliffe dug into their strings in the finale allegro in an approach that was never jocular, but close. Urgency and wonderfully lively rhythmic breaks characterized the performance, with much spontaneous excitement that developed in the five-minute movement. A convincing Fauré performance demands a refined sensibility and an urbane sound, and the Lincoln delivered it.

Joaquin Turina’s early F Major Trio has been a Lincoln specialty, played and recorded far less than the Op. 35 and Op. 76 Turina Trios. The four-movement piece at times has reference to the two Arensky and other Russian Trios, and the playing in the opening lento – allegro had strong thematic projection in the march-like themes, and pedal point in the piano part. Slow descending passages characterized the andante, a beguiling threnody. Ms. Aznavoorian’s octave playing was forceful, and the big climax had a Spanish sound. Unison string playing was very good, often in the higher registers, and the lively scherzo with pizzicato strings was surprisingly lightweight.

Muscular and loud playing was heard in the concluding andante grandiose, a fast and impulsive romp that had echoes of the music of Franck and Bizet. Fauré chamber compositions masterfully combine throttled excitement with elegance, and the Lincoln conveyed these characteristics perfectly. Applause was generous but not loud.

A short and intense work by Juan Antonio Cuellar, a Colombian composer associated with the University of Indiana, closed then program. It was a jerky piece, menacing, dissonant and replete with repetitive phrases. A samba rhythm rolled in and the Lincoln gave the interpretation instrumental power and excitement. The specter of Gustavo Dudamel’s athletic conducting and musical juice came to mind.

On the next day the Lincoln Trio played a slightly expanded version of this program in the Music at Oakmont Series in Berger Auditorium.