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SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 08, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
Choral and Vocal
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 09, 2020
The Feb. 9 performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony offered a healthy dose of 21st century music firmly bound to the 19th. Matt Browne’s first symphony, “The Course of Empire”—based on a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School of American painting in the 1820s—emp...
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 02, 2020
Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert. In his eighth conducting season with the So C...
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 01, 2020
The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, gave a concert of enormous energy and emotional impact on Feb.1 to a small audience in Weill Hall. This orchestra has been a major cultural force in Poland since 1949, playing under many renowned conductors and has been committed to pr...
EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT
by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 2020
“Beautiful, strange, and unnatural…” said orchestra conductor Thomas Conlin when speaking of the tenor voice. One of the coveted voice types of the opera world, the tenor voice is known for it’s piercing tones and soaring, unnatural high notes. The iconic image of the Pagliacci clown (in the famed...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Gualala Arts Chamber Music Series / Sunday, October 13, 2019
Manhatten Piano Trio. Milana Strezeva, piano; Solomiya Ivakhiv, violin; Sophie Shao, cello

Manhattan Piano Trio Oct. 13 at Gualala Arts Concert (Judy McNeill photo)

POTENT MANHATTAN TRIO PERFORMANCES AT GUALALA ARTS CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 13, 2019

Gualala Arts has been North Coast gem since 1980s, presenting a wide menu of musical programs in the charming small concert hall in the redwoods near the ocean in Gualala, and the Manhattan Piano Trio opened the new season Oct. 13. It was the fifth appearance in Gualala for this New York-based ensemble, with pianist founder pianist Milana Strezeva joined by Trio newcomers Solomiya Ivakhiv (violin) and cellist Sophie Shao.

Haydn’s G Major Trio (Hob. XV/25) opened the concert before an audience of 200 area residents, with Ms. Ivakhiv (standing throughout) leading an interpretation that was direct and often driven in the sprightly opening andante. The hall’s acoustics are almost without reverberation, but the sound is direct and “Papa” Haydn’s compositional charm was everywhere evident. Phrasing in the first two movements was conventional and favored a rich string sound, finishing with a long fermata in the songful adagio.

Things changed in the swirling finale, a rondo with many thematic repeats in a gypsy style (Hungarian? Balkan?) that featured Ms. Strezeva’s driving pianism that although forceful never covered her companion’s sound. It was integrated and balanced playing, jocular but everywhere convincing, and received loud applause.

Schumann’s Five Pieces in Folk Style, Op. 102, followed, spotlighting Ms. Shao’s rich cello virtuosity. Contrasts in the music were emphasized, with perhaps the highlight being the alternating lyrical and then somber effects in the Langsam that resembled a lullaby, with three vivid chords at the end, two of them in arpeggios. Fine instrumental balance continued through the third and fourth movements, the Nicht Schnell slightly strident with several key modulations, and the concluding Stark und Markiert in strict tempo and Ms. Shao’s lovely resonant playing and deft bow control. The hall’s piano is voiced warmly and Ms. Strezeva’s tone color in soft passages was splendid.

The afternoon’s surprise came with Galician composer Anatol Kos-Anatolsky’s Poeme for Violin and Piano, probably in its North Coast premiere. In remarks from the stage Ms. Ivakhiv mentioned that the piece was just recently discovered, though composed long before the composer’s death in 1983. Ms. Strezeva played the pungent introduction with muscular drama, leading into episodic sections that were colorfully tonal and full of high register violin writing and extended pianissimos between phrases.

In the cadenza the violinist favored much tempo fluctuation and potent sforzandos that evolved into a tumultuous folk dance at presto speed, the two instruments often many registers apart but with palpable excitement. The light humorous ending was a surprise.

After a long intermission with gratis refreshments Dvorák’s great Dumky Trio in E Minor, Op. 90, received a committed and convincing reading. The Manhattan seemed to revel in the quirky and complex six-movement piece, with virtuosity everywhere: strong thematic projection, pungent but sporadically dry tone from Ms. Ivakhiv, Ms. Shao’s drone cello line under raucous Czech dance rhythms and lovely unison playing from the two strings. Beginning with the mystery of the first 60 measures, amazing passionate and laconic contrasts unfold in this unique work from 1891, so different from contemporary composers (Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein, St. Saëns, Reger, Arensky) that were writing in more established trio formats. The first three movements were played without pause.

Ensemble was solid throughout; even in places were the tempo sharply accelerated or when thematic fragments from each instrument could have blurred the music. They never did. In this work Dvorák can’t let go of expected section endings, and here the Manhattan brought innovative moods and excitement to each extended cadenza and each short violin and piano section, sometimes in tremolo and ostinato. The playing was instrumentally surefooted and artistically distinguished, and at 34 minutes it never seemed at all long.

This elegant and thrilling Dumky performance generated a standing ovation, but no encore was offered.







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