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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, September 29, 2019
Trio Navarro. Jill Rachuy, cello; Victor Romasevich, violin; Marilyn Thompson, piano

Trio Navarro Sept. 29 in Schroeder Hall

DEMANDING PIANO TRIOS ADORN TRIO NAVARRO'S OPENING CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 29, 2019

Continuing a decades-long search for innovative piano trio repertoire, Sonoma State’s resident Trio Navarro opened their current season Sept. 29 in Schroeder Hall with three works of mostly arcane and rigorous music.

Not rare of course was Mozart’s G Major Trio, K. V. 564, that opened the program in a buoyant performance with Marilyn Thompson’s warm piano sound. The Schroeder house instrument is voiced with less brilliance than the two stage pianos in Weill Hall, and the music sounded clearly even in the allegro’s fast legato passages that at times were joyful dances.

In the andante violinist Victor Romasevich’s unsteady intonation quickly resolved with many ascending phrases of beauty in splendid ensemble. This work, possibly arranged by Mozart from a piano sonata, received a reading that stressed musical simplicity and light touches from all three instruments.

Frank Bridge’s early Phastasie Trio in C Minor is anything but initially charming, with a potent opening phrase that then moved through five movements of continual tempo and mood changes. The Navarro stressed the mixture of percussive effects with surging lyricism. Here and there references to Arensky and Rachmaninoff could be heard, but just snippets, and there was a splendid duo with Mr. Romasevitch’s high register and cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel’s rich bottom sound. There is much harmonic interest and the composer gives each instrument the same theme to announce over perhaps 15 measures.

Near the end the Navarro played a big repetition of the menacing opening theme in dramatic phrases, and pushed the music to the end, albeit with several deceptive cadences. The response from the audience of 50 was tepid.

Following intermission Georgy Catoire’s F Minor Trio concluded the afternoon, a piece the Navarro has played before and the mood was moved from quirky drama to saturated romanticism with a Russian flair, with bit of Tchaikovsky, but so different. The allegro moderato is a high temperature movement where the ensemble never lets up. Richer violin tone was needed here, but Ms. Brindel played well the themes that are attractive but not easily grasped.

Momentum continued in the allegretto fantastico that is harmonically foreign to contemporaries (Dvorák, St. Saëns, Ravel, Liadov, Reger), the high point for me being an elegant held note in the cello over Ms. Thompson’s wandering piano configurations. The playing in the finale (molto allegro) found the trio building abbreviated and extended climaxes, with flourishes in the piano part. It’s a difficult piece to pigeonhole, unique and strange where a touch of Schumann’s chordal progressions and Rachmaninoff’s temperament appear.

The Trio gave a committed performance of a work that is difficult to get ones arms (or ears) around. Applause was temperate. There was no encore.
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