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Chamber
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...
Chamber
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...
Chamber
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...
Chamber
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...
Symphony
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...
Opera
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
Redwood Arts Council / Saturday, October 19, 2019
American Chamber Players. Miles Hoffman, viola; Stephen Balderston, cello; Lorin Kitt, clarinet; Joanna Maurer, violin; Sara Stern, flute; Anna Stoytcheva, piano

American Chamber Players

RARE LEKEU QUARTET HIGHLIGHTS SEASON OPENING RAC CONCERT IN OCCIDENTAL

by Nicki Bell
Saturday, October 19, 2019

The five musicians of the American Chamber Players brought mostly unfamiliar music to their Oct. 19 Redwood Arts Council concert in Occidental’s intimate Performing Arts Center.

Violist and group founder Miles Hoffman spoke briefly to the audience to open the evening.  An instantly engaging speaker, he has been heard for years on NPR’s “Coming to Terms” and has authored NPR Classical Music Companion, and discussed the program which proved to be varied, fascinating and delightful.  It was a first concert with RAC’s 40th season and the hall’s new piano, a Kawai grand with beautiful tone, and the audience packed the hall.

Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D Major, K.285, set a tone of musical warmth and clarity, with luscious ensemble and a joyous intimacy, like in a large living room with musicians circled on a Persian carpet.  It seemed a music party.  Flutist Sara Stern’s phrasing in the the Mozart was exquisite.  In the Adagio the flute aria soared above plucked strings and led seamlessly right into a joyous Rondo of high spirits.

Three Jewish Songs for viola, cello and piano followed, written by violist Max Raimi in 1980, and they were originally composed for his family to play at Passover family gatherings.  Raimi has written numerous works for the American Chamber Players. Entitled Kuma Echa (Arise Brother), Eliahu Hanovi (Elijah the Prophet) and Nigun Bialik (a wordless melody), these were fun works with a “get up and dance” spirit, and likely are meant to be heard while having shots of slivovitz, a lethal Balkan brandy.

Philippe Gaubert’s “Three Watercolors” for flute, cello and piano (1926) filled out the first half.  Gracious, impressionistic, lyrical, they were beautiful showcases for the Ms. Stern, cellist Stephen Balderson and pianist Anna Stoytcheva. The music was played with great attention to color and nuance, and unfolded with grace. “On a Clear Morning” was played with flashes and ripples of compelling sound.  “Autumn Evening” was far quieter and atmospheric, with beautiful cello and flute duets. There was Debussy character in the music with suggestions of darkness to come. The final “Serenade” was performed with a dance spirit, the playing imaginative and akin a story being told. Many in the audience smiled at the conclusion.

Intermission featured wine, home-baked goodies, CD’s of 40 years of artists who have played at the RAC, a raffle and time for strolling through the adjoining art gallery.

Beethoven’s “La ci dame la mano” Variations (from Act 1 of Mozart’s Opera “Don Giovanni”), was written when the composer was 25, and arranged here for flute, violin and viola. The piece was full of charm, texture and mood, each instrument having their variation to shine.  As in the best of chamber music, the performance felt like a game of finishing each other’s sentences, and it brimmed with lightness and humor. The audience was chuckling as it ended with a “the…end”
     
The last piece, a two movement B Minor Quartet for piano and strings by Guillaume Lekeu was quite novel and captivating. Coming to Paris from Belgium to study with Franck and later D’Indy, Lekeu died at 24 from typhoid fever. This quartet, unfinished in 1894, was his last work.  A very passionate first movement (“Dans un emportement douloureux”) is followed by a expressive nocturne (“Lent et passionne”), and the entire work was completed by D’Indy.  A third movement, a culmination of the other two, was never written.  Mr. Hoffman said from the stage that “Given the sumptuousness of the first movement and the extraordinary, almost unearthly beauty of the second, this would be been quite an accomplishment”.  In its first public performance in Paris in 1896, Debussy insisted on being the pianist.

Rich and passionate, the Lekeu Quartet was played passionately with appeals to happiness, cries of love, pain and suffering, despair and joy. Full sonorities played at full throttle.  The beauty of the piano line and the marvelous violinist Joanna Maurer shining forth made a combination that was both potent snd exhilarating. Dark and quiet, the second movement was played in a way that consoled the spirit. Rich Romantic emotions seem to be reflected in thee faces of the musicians, especially from Ms. Maurer, perhaps both sad and profound.  

At the end there was a standing ovation, the only possible response to the performance.

Sonia Morse Tubridy contributed to this review.