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Chamber
STYLISH HAYDN QUARTETS CLOSE GREEN ROOM SERIES
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Completing the Green Music Center’s spring series series of “Green Room” virtual concerts, the St. Lawrence String Quartet played May 9 a lightweight program of two Haydn works. Lightweight perhaps, but in every way satisfying. The G Major Quartet (Op. 76, No.1) began the music that was supplement...
Recital
ECLECTIC PIANISM IN SPRING LAKE VILLAGE VIRTUAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
During the pandemic The Santa Rosa Symphony’s virtual concerts received their due in performance praise, but another series, Spring Lake Village, more quietly presented monthly virtual concerts to a select local audience. May 5 saw the latest event, produced by impresario Robert Hayden, and feature...
Symphony
SONIC CONTRASTS HIGHLIGHT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SPRING PROGRAM
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 25, 2021
In a curious mixture of compositions, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s penultimate virtual concert of the season April 25 unfolded in ways both highly satisfying and a bit perplexing. Directed by resident Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong, the event followed a familiar format – several contemporary wor...
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...
REVIEW

Dawn Harms, Anna Kruger, Thalia Moore and Roxanne Michaelian at Oakmont

INSTRUMENTAL EQUALITY IN JAN. 14 OAKMONT CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 14, 2010

Innovative but not necessarily exciting programming characterized the Kirkwood Piano Quartet’s Jan. 14 performance in Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium.

Unfamiliar works were perhaps the reason for an audience count far less than the usual Oakmont Concerts Series event, and the Kirkwood played a first half of rarely-heard music: Bridge’s one-movement “Phantasy” and a Stanford Quartet in F Major, Op. 15. The dreamy Bridge, from 1911, has many contrasting sections with echoes of late Faure. The playing was lovely, idiomatic and made the most of the subtle duos of viola and cello. The textures were homogeneous, right up to the deft arpeggios from pianist Roxanne Michaelian at the conclusion.

Charles Villiers Stanford is remembered mostly for choral works, though Oakmont resident and Stanford expert Harry Fry reminds associates that the English composers of the Victorian era were successful in other genres. The 1879 Quartet featured harmonies reminiscent of Brahms and Rubinstein, and the bucolic opening allegro con brio was richly played, the themes traded with clarity between violinist Dawn Harms and cellist Thalia Moore. Ms. Harms’ tone can be thin at the top, but Ms. Moore has an exceptionally sonorous bottom register, spacious and frequently doing the voice leading chores. This was especially apparent in the long and lush adagio movement, the Kirkwood catching the majesty of the writing with hints of Elgar. The concluding allegro was spirited, Brahmsian in the lower registers, the piano never covering the other instruments.

It was a fluent if not a particularly powerful reading, and the music must have been novel for just about everyone in Berger. Not so for the familiar Quartet in E-Flat Major, Op. 47, of Schumann, that closed the program. Here all was in place and the Kirkwood’s interest in a blended instrumental texture foremost. Tempos seemed right throughout and the famous andante cantabile saw each player having a chance at the nostalgic and opulent main theme. Mid way through this glowing and vocal movement violist Anna Kruger took up the theme with Ms. Moore in a poignant melodic statement, every note expressive.

Without pause the finale began, quick fugal-like sections ending quickly. Here again the Kirkwood favored equality of sound over fervor, the reading fluent and beautiful without ever raising the audience’s temperature. There was no encore.