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Chamber
BEETHOVEN FEATURED IN SF TRIO'S OCCIDENTAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 19, 2020
Conventional repertoire in uncommonly good performances highlighted the San Francisco Piano Trio’s Jan. 19 concert in the Occidental Center for the Arts. Haydn’s No. 44 Trio (Hob. XV:28) came from late in his long career, when he was in and out of London, and received a sparkling reading that featu...
SIMONE PORTER ASPIRES TO STARDOM WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 12, 2020
The Sibelius violin concerto is one of several mountains that violin soloists need to ascend before they can lay claim to stardom. Hundreds make the attempt every year, but only a few reach the top. Simone Porter, who played the concerto with the Santa Rosa Symphony on Sunday afternoon, got close bu...
Choral and Vocal
ORPHEUS OF AMSTERDAM'S MUSIC IN SCHROEDER ORGAN CHORAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, January 10, 2020
“All over the map.” Sonoma Bach, directed by Bob Worth, has taken its audiences this season on journeys through many centuries and many lands. The programming is fresh and intriguing and the performers varied and creators of beauty and interest. The January 10 program was centered on organ works by...
Choral and Vocal
OLD NORTH GERMAN CAROLS IN SONOMA BACH'S SCHROEDER CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, December 15, 2019
“Cast off all sorrows…also dance in heavenly fashion.” A volume called Piae Cantiones was printed in 1582 in North Germany, lively songs going back to the 14th century, and this treasure trove provided material for numerous composers to arrange Christmas carols over following generations, from simp...
Symphony
EVERLASTING LIGHT AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Monday, December 09, 2019
The Mozart Requiem includes four intermittent vocal soloists, but the real star is the choir, which is featured in almost every movement. That stardom shone bright at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s memorable Requiem performance on Monday night. The soloists were good, but the choir was superb. Located wi...
Symphony
UNFINISHED AND FINNISH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 08, 2019
Having a new resident conductor on the podium for the Ukiah Symphony was an attractive invitation for a long-delayed visit to Mendocino College’s Center Theater Dec. 8. The insouciant Les Pfutzenreuter recently retired after decades of conducting the ensemble, replaced by Phillip Lenberg who also j...
Choral and Vocal
PRAERTORIUS IN RENAISSANCE GLORY FROM SONOMA BACH
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, November 16, 2019
Sonoma Bach Choir, in collaboration with Barefoot All-Stars Viol Consort and The Whole Noyse Brass Ensemble, presented “Sing Glorious Praetorius!” November 16 to an almost full Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. The Soloists were soprano Dianna Morgan, Christopher Fritzsche, (countertenor), m...
Symphony
ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL EXCITEMENT IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 16, 2019
Beginning with a scintillating reading of Rossini’s Overture to the Opera “Semiramide,” the Sonoma County Philharmonic performed a splendid program Nov. 16 in the Jackson Theater, and featured two additional works, one showcasing the winner of the San Francisco Conservatory’s Young Artist Award. It...
Chamber
SPIRITUAL LATE BEETHOVEN QUARTET HIGHLIGHTS MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 10, 2019
Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131, called “unparalleled in its inexhaustibility” by critic Thomas May, is a daunting challenge. Orchestral in concept, filled with wit and charm, melancholy and fury, it almost overwhelms listeners. Playing the frenetic Scherzo, a viol...
Symphony
MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANCE IN UNIQUE SRS CONCERT IN WEILL HALL
by Terry McNeill
Monday, November 04, 2019
It was a concert full of surprises Nov. 4 as the Santa Rosa Symphony responded to the area’s wild fires and evacuations with challenging, songful and somewhat unique music in Weill Hall. The last of a three-concert series titled "Master of the Modern Banjo" is reviewed here. The evening began with...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Sonoma State University Department of Music / Sunday, February 17, 2019
Trio Navarro. Marilyn Thompson, piano; Victor Romasevich, violin; Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello

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.