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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
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.