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Chamber
PERFORMER AS PROMOTER: CLARA SCHUMANN AND MUSICAL SALONS CLOSE VOM FESTIVAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 28, 2019
The July 28 closing performance of the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival could have been subtitled "Friends", as it was devoted to works by both Clara and Robert Schumann, and those of their friends and protégés Brahms and virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim, with whom Clara toured extensively...
Chamber
ROMANTIC CHAMBER WORKS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 27, 2019
Now in its 5th season the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented July 27 a concert titled “My Brilliant Sister,” featuring Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s compositions for combinations of voice, fortepiano and strings. Fanny and her brother Felix were close, and Felix occasionally published ...
Symphony
ROMANTIC DREAMS AT THE MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kayleen Asbo
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Romanticism, contrary to many popular perceptions, wasn’t simply about diving into the habitat of the heart. Romanticism began as a literary movement that elevated the power of nature as a transcendent force and sought with keen nostalgia to rediscover the wisdom of the past. The Romantics in both l...
Chamber
CHAUSSON CONCERTO SHINES IN A VISIONARY'S SALON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Ernest Chausson’s four-movement Concerto in D Major for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet (1891) is neither concerto nor sonata nor symphony, but it somehow manages to be all three, especially when played with fire and conviction by an accomplished soloist. Those incendiary and emotional elements w...
Chamber
EUROPEAN SALON MUSIC CAPTIVATES AT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Two stunning programs of 19th and 20th century chamber music were presented on July 21 and 28 as part of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival at the Hanna Center in Sonoma. Festival founders and directors pianist Eric Zivian and cellist Tanya Tompkins were both on hand to contribute brilliantly at ...
Chamber
ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL COMBINATIONS IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 20, 2019
A Lovely summer afternoon in Sonoma Valley, an excellent small concert hall, enthusiastic audience, exciting musicians and creative programming with interesting story lines. All these were combined July 20 at a Valley of the Moon Festival concert titled “An Italian in Paris.” This is the fifth seaso...
Opera
'ELIXIR' A WELCOME TONIC IN SPRIGHTLY ANNUAL MMF OPERA
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 19, 2019
In most of the Mendocino Music Festival’s 33 seasons a single evening is given over to a staged opera, with bare bones sets, lighting, costumes, minimal cast and short length. No Wagner or Verdi here, no multiple acts and complicated production demands. Light and frothy are the usual, and so it wa...
Recital
PUNGENT WALTZES AND VIRTUOSITY IN LADEUR'S SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
San Francisco based pianist Jeffrey LaDeur has become one of the most sought-after North Bay virtuosi, and cemented that reputation July 17 in a short but eclectic recital in Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village Chamber Music Series. Before 140 in the Village’s auditorium Mr. LaDeur began with Schubert...
Choral and Vocal
NOBLE BRAHMS REQUIEM PERFORMANCE CLOSES SONOMA BACH'S SEASON
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 01, 2019
Sonoma Bach, conducted by Robert Worth, presented a truly grand finale to their 2018-19 "Light Out of Darkness" season in two sold out Schroeder Hall performances June 1 and 2. The program "A Human Requiem" was received rapturously with a well-deserved standing ovation for the main work, Brahms' ...
Chamber
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six song...
RECITAL REVIEW
Green Music Center / Saturday, March 30, 2019
Anne Akiko Meyers, violin; Jason Vieaux, guitar

J. Vieaux and A. A. Meyers Backstage in Weill (Green Music Center Photo)

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 together, they shared exquisite music to an appreciative audience of 900.

One pleasure of hearing two master musicians is that there are seemingly few barriers to what they can do. The musical world is their sonic oyster. Ms. Meyers often commissions contemporary composers and premieres arrangements and new works, and arranges some herself. Mr. Vieaux performs worldwide with diverse ensembles and seems up for anything.

Corelli’s Sonata in D Minor, Op. 5, No. 12, arranged for violin and guitar by Andy Poxon, opened the program with a flourish. Subtitled “La Folia,” it grandly states its theme, and then unravels variations delightful in their inventiveness. Ms. Meyers explored Corelli’s stylistic innovations for the violin with a universe of bowing effects. Mr. Vieaux strummed and plucked and arpeggiated chords through the wide range of sound of which the classical guitar is capable. It was a rousing opener with a distinctly Spanish flair.

Glass’ Metamorphosis II, from his five-movement piano suite composed in the late 1980s, followed. It was arranged for violin and guitar by Michael Riesman, Music Director of the Philip Glass Ensemble, and it is stunning. The guitar’s minimalist, repetitive, broken thirds were a haunting ostinato for the violin’s simple yet rich rising and falling melody, leading into rapid and delicate arpeggios, like rapidly beating wings, and was soon answered by Mr. Vieaux’s own finger-flying arpeggios. All the playing circled back to the beginning ruminations before a poignant ending.

Piazzolla’s “Histoire du Tango,” a four-movement suite from 1986, brought the spirit of the cafés and bordellos of Argentina into Weill Hall. Mr. Vieaux was clearly on home ground, dispensing with scores for the rest of the program. He has performed this work with the traditional Argentine bandoneón instrument, and it was the bandoneón’s special sound that Ms. Meyers evoked in her playing – bold sensuality and rawness, manifested through the versatility of her bow. Resonance and soul and irresistible rhythms flowed from the duo in this work. Each section takes on a different era: “Bordello, circa 1900,” brings a turn-of-the-century spirit of nightlife of Buenos Aires. “Night Club, 1960” presents the “new tango,” full of longing and fulfillment, danced in clubs. “Modern-Day Concert” intertwines tango with American jazz and the music of Eastern European composers such as Bartok and Stravinsky, whose influence was felt in Europe when Piazzolla lived in Paris. There is always a knife-edge to the tango, and the duo’s interpretation brought out that dark element as well as unfettered joy.

Following intermission, Ms. Meyers alone played her arrangement for solo violin of Kojo No Tsuki (The Moon Over the Ruined Castle), by Rentaro Taki. A simple Japanese folk tune in the pentatonic scale morphs into an exploration of sound. Meant to evoke a ruined Japanese medieval castle in the moonlight, it suggests the turbulence of life through times of war when it was alive with intrigue. A composer and pianist during the Meiji period, Taki traveled to Leipzig to further his musical studies, falling ill after a year and returning to Japan, where he died, possibly from tuberculosis, at 23. It was a lovely and intriguing piece played with great sensitivity.

Mr. Vieaux then took the stage for a solo, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa nova tune “A Felicidade,” which was the main theme of the film “Black Orpheus.” He introduced the piece by calling Jobin “perhaps the greatest popular songwriter of the 20th century.” His performance fully communicated the excitement and intensity of Carnival in Brazil.

The duo reunited for a John Corigliano “Lullaby for Natalie,” which Ms. Meyers told the audience was close to her heart; she had commissioned the work when she was pregnant with her first daughter, Natalie, now eight. Natalie was in the audience, and eyes turned to the orchestra section when the girl rose from the seats she shared with her father and younger sister. Her mother continued that the piece is Natalie’s preferred lullaby (her sister’s favorite is “Spiegel im Spiegel” by Arvo Pärt). “You’re welcome to go to sleep, honey,” Ms. Meyers concluded, smiling. The Corigliano furnished another instance among many this evening when the two instruments and two performers were especially well-suited, each sustaining a personality and voice, each discernible while blending transparently.

The artists concluded the program with five of De Falla’s “Siete Canciones Populares Española” (1914). This dazzling work has been arranged for all manner of ensembles. Dashing through moods, swelling and growing, it is heartrending music with a constant, compelling pulse. After its final notes, the audience gave the artists a standing ovation. As an encore, Ms. Meyers, admitting she “loves Elvis Presley,” joined Mr. Vieaux in playing a song Presley made popular, “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George David Weiss. The performers gave it a Scottish-Irish lilt, and the richly diverse evening ended on a sentimental note.