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Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
CHAMBER REVIEW

The Sequoia Trio

AND SEQUOIA MAKES THREE

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 05, 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.