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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
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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