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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...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 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...
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...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Absolute Music / Sunday, March 8, 2009
Norma Brown, Piano
Joe Edelberg, Violin
Carol Menke, Soprano
Kati Kyme, Viola
Thalia Moore, Cello
Ken Miller, Bass

Soprano Carol Menke

SUNSHINE IN MUSIC

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 8, 2009

After a week of rain, a “mostly Schubert” concert on March 8 in Santa Rosa’s Friedman Center was a welcome blue-sky tonic. As the Russian virtuoso Anton Rubinstein once said, “Ah, Schubert, sunshine in music.”

Produced by Absolute Music, the concert honored founders Alfred and Susanne Batzdorff on their 65th wedding anniversary, and the 150 attending came to applaud the ever-young couple and sample some of the Viennese composer’s best works for small ensemble.

The short Sonatina in D for Piano and Violin, D. 384, began the program with the proper Schubertian lilt. Violinist Joseph Edelberg combined with the rhythmic certainty of pianist Norma Brown to shape the lovely themes. Though the piece was shaky in the first movement, all was secure in the fetching Andante. Edelberg never tries to project the big line, content to let his chaste sound make subtle musical points. The piece turns dramatic in the concluding Allegro vivace, and the musicians made the many tempo variations effective and colorful.

Soprano Carol Menke joined Brown in three Schubert songs, along with four from Vaughn Williams (with Edelberg), to conclude the first half. Menke is the sine qua non of Sonoma County singers, always dependably delivering the musical goods with faultless diction, piquant phrasing and tonal opulence. In Schubert’s “Der Neugierige,” she exhibited faultless control of pianissimos, and in his “Die Gebusche,” she followed the many modulations with yearning, floating high-register notes.

The Vaughn Williams songs, to poems by A.E. Housman, were mostly short and beguiling. “We’ll to the Woods No More” felt like the famous “Lark Ascending” for violin and orchestra, and Edelberg proved a deft, dead-on pitch partner. The darker “In the Morning, in the Morning” and the lively “Good-Bye” were objects lessons in restrained and masterful singing.

Following an intermission where all kinds of food and drink (for purchase) were consumed, Menke returned for a final song, Schubert’s “Die Forelle,” whose melody is used in the fourth movement of the “Trout” Quintet, Op. 114, which closed the concert. Each stanza of the song had a different texture, the final two lines settling in a convincing way the plight of the angler contesting the wary fish.

In the opening Allegro of the quintet, bassist Ken Miller used the high stage’s resonance to project a larger-than-usual low sound. The approach adjusted quickly as pianist Brown brought the balances into order, allowing the treble to sound warm and letting the playful nature of the music shine through. Schubert never wrote a happier work. The Andante and Scherzo were well played, not note perfect, but stylistically assured. Swooping ritards were not part of the performance, and the phrasing eschewed large variations. Violinist Edelberg led the pastoral but at times wild finale, trading voice leading with violist Kati Kyme. The big false cadence in this Allegro Giusto leads back to what some may find a banal theme, but what wonders Schubert weaves into it! The players seemed to give it a Hungarian twist, with the piano runs sparkling and pushing to a forceful conclusion.

No encores were offered, but the audience was more than sated with such melodic richness and proficient virtuosity from singer and players alike.