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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

Trio Navarro Feb. 17: V. Romasevich, M. Thompson, J. Brindel

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 Arensky, but the second from each composer, the C Minor (Op. 66) and F Minor (Op. 73), respectively.

But first came Haydn’s B-Flat Major Trio (Hob. XV:20), a short effervescent work that puts the lie to the contention that Haydn’s piano trios are accompanied solos. The opening allegro rustled along, bucolic and never demanding, contrasting pianist Marilyn Thompson’s long introduction to the andante with cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel and violinist Victor Romasevich playing variations. Mr. Romasevich played a lovely solo in the concluding finale.

The appetizer over, the Mendelssohn began with a wet, rich agitated string sound and a more leisurely tempo than expected with half-pedaled piano runs supporting a fine ensemble. The allegro energetico’s big false cadence before the end moved into a rush to the finish, an easy contrast to the lovely andante movement. Here Mr. Romasevich built many small climaxes in a romantic mix, all concluding with two shimmering pianissimo chords.

Mendelssohn writes scherzos like no other, and this five-minute movement was played in a pulsating rhythm with many repeated motifs and spiccato bow technique and humor. The Navarro again chose in the concluding allegro appassionato a tempo that was not racehorse, though surges of joy and vigor were everywhere, as was a hint of tragedy (but just a hint) in this virtuoso performance.

Following intermission I moved from the back of the hall to the second row, as piano legato is blurred way back in Schroeder, and much clearer up front with of course increased violin and cello volume. The more husky sound was welcome in the Arensky, a work from 1905 that has copious references to Chopin and especially Schumann. A quick tempo and meandering themes characterized the first movement, luxuriously harmonic but sharply different from contemporary Russians Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein, and the beguiling slow pace of the gold standard Borodin Trio’s recording from 1990. The accelerando at the end was explosive.

In the heart-on-sleeve romance the Navarro eschewed much rubati and kept the music from ever becoming cloying. A hard thing to do, given Ms. Brindel’s lovely ascending cello lines weaving about Mr. Romasevich’s elegant high register playing, and Ms. Thompson’s sensuous opening piano solo. The scherzo was dominated by both strings pizzicato that related to a waltz tune, with Ms. Thompson taking up rippling arpeggios in support.

Playing in the virtuosic closing variations (6) was at times in dance forms, nostalgic, and then busting out with fast scale playing and increased sonorities. Nothing was held back in this stirring performance where each variation had an individual character, with sprightly turns in the third and fifth. The Trio deftly played the surprising return of the first movement’s main theme with a subtle and slight change, making the composition’s quiet close all the more effective.