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Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
CHAMBER REVIEW

The Sequoia Trio

AND SEQUOIA MAKES THREE

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 5, 2009

Having a third piano trio resident in the North Bay along with the Navarro and Tilden trios is a joyous prospect, as each will provide varied aural perspectives on the rich trio literature. The newest group, the Sequoia, played on March 5 in the cozy Great Room of Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village before 75 attentive listeners.

Joining pianist Florence Aquilina and violinist Gary McLaughlin, both SRJC faculty members, was Santa Rosa cellist Laura McClellan, whose sonorous instrument was in many ways the afternoon’s leading voice. The performance included trios by Beethoven and Foote, with Gliere’s Pieces for Violin and Cello, Op. 19, slipping inconspicuously in between.

Beethoven originally wrote his B-flat Trio, Op. 11, for clarinet with cello and piano, and here the violin took over the wind instrument part. The Sequoia began a little cautiously in developing the contrasting melodic fragments in the first movement, but settled in quickly, and the following Adagio was elegantly played. Aquilina led the way here with deft dynamic control, a lovely five-note descending figure ending the lyricism. The finale seemed a jolly romp, the string players trading allegretto themes from an opera aria unfamiliar to me.

Contrasting moods characterized the four short Gliere works, easily heard and I think easily forgotten. The first (Prelude) received a somber performance, and the third (Cradle Song) had the baby moving along at a substantial clip. The last time I heard the Cradle Song was when it was played by Heifetz and Piatigorsky in a long-ago Pasadena concert of my youth. It was as subtly played today as it was then.

Arthur Foote’s big Trio in B Flat, Op. 65, closed the concert. As with his C Major Piano Quintet, the second Trio is dramatic throughout and reflects the influence of Brahms, Wagner and Rubinstein. Born in 1853, Foote, with Chadwick, Paine and Beach, dominated the New England school of composition up to WW I. His style is declamatory and emphatically individual. The opening Allegro giocoso was well played but not an artistic whole. Unlike the more orchestral sound of Marin’s Tilden Trio, or the homogeneous voice from the seasoned Trio Navarro, the Sequoia’s sound has yet to convincingly blend. McLaughlin’s tone carries well but was thin, the vibrato for the most part narrow, and it never quite shared the richness and wide vibrato coming from the cello line.

The balance was better in the Tranquillo movement, beginning with a long and delicate piano-cello duo, finally being joined by the violin in upper registers. Brahms is the model here, the movement having the day’s best playing and most extended coloration. Aquilina led off the Finale with rapid up and down phrases, playing pointilistically before launching a theme reminiscent of parts of the first movement. Here the playing was ardent but frequently lacked the volume and breadth needed to make Foote’s music convincing.

This new trio of savvy local musicians portends terrific concerts in the future as they fine-tune their sound and continues to explore fresh repertoire.