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Chamber
SPARKLING WIND, STRING, HARP MUSIC AT DEVON HOUSE GARDEN CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Take a mild autumn evening, a garden gazebo with patterned rugs and lit with soft bulbs, shake in a fine chamber ensemble, add a rising new moon, and you have a recipe for the musical delight that violist Elizabeth Prior presented Oct. 9 in her Devon House Garden Concert series. The Marin Terra Li
Recital
AUTHORITATIVE BEETHOVEN SONATA IN KLEIN'S OCCIDENTAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, October 8, 2021
People attending the first Redwood Arts Council Occidental concert in 20 months found a surprise – a luxurious new lobby attached to the Performing Arts Center. It was a welcome bonus to a recital given by pianist Andreas Klein where the music seemed almost as familiar as was the long shuttered hal
Symphony
MOVIE MUSIC ON THE WINDSOR GREEN IN SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 3, 2021
People approaching the Windsor Green bandstand Oct. 3 for the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s season opening concert had some cause for concern. After 18 months of silence would the all-volunteer orchestra have enough musicians for a big movie music program? After all, performers can move, retire, or
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY RETURNS IN TRIUMPH
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 3, 2021
It is often the case that a single piece or performer steals the show at a symphony concert, but at the Oct. 3 performance of the Santa Rosa Symphony, the show itself stole the show. The concert opened with a serene 1982 tone poem by Libby Larsen, followed by a masterful performance by soloist Julia
Symphony
TWO WIND SOLOISTS CHARM AT SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 26, 2021
The house of music has many rooms. That dusty adage was never truer than when Weill Hall Sept. 25 hosted a roaring New Orleans-style musical party, and less than a day later a mostly sedate Sonoma State University student orchestra performance. Before a crowd of 200 conductor Alexander Kahn led a
Other
CLEARY'S NEW ORLEANS BAND IGNITES PARTY FOR THE GREEN AT SSU
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 25, 2021
A dramatic and unique start to the new Green Music’s Center’ 2021-2022 season exploded in a “Party for the Green” Sept. 25, a New Orleans (NO) style commotion featuring Jon Cleary and his Absolute Monster Gentlemen band, inside and outside of Weill Hall. Beginning with a private gourmet dinner in t
GAULIST FLAVOR IN FINAL SF PIANO FESTIVAL CONCERT AT OLD FIRST
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Final summer music festival programs are often a mix of what has come before, with the theme and even a featured composer taking a last stage appearance, with a dramatic wrap up composition. San Francisco’s International Piano Festival defied the norm August 29 with an eclectic French-flavored prog
SPARE DUO PRECEDES MYSTEROUS DUO AT DEN BOER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, August 27, 2021
In a departure from usual summer festival fare Julia Den Boer played an August 27 virtual recital in the San Francisco Piano Festival’s 4.5 season with four works, all mostly quiet but all in separate ways insistently demanding of artist and listener. Throughout the 40 minutes there was nary a powe
HARMONIC COMPLEXITY IN PHILLIPS' ALL-GRIFFES RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, August 20, 2021
Charles Griffes’ piano music is similar to that of Busoni, Reger and even Poulenc, in that there is a sporadic flourish of interest with concerts and scholarly work, then a quick fade into another long period of obscurity. So, it was a delight to have an all-Griffes recital August 20 on the San F
Chamber
ONE PIANO, TWO PIANO, THREE PIANO, FORE
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Schroeder Hall was nearly full July 29 for the final pianoSonoma concert of their season, and presumably the draw and highlight for many of the 150 attending was Bach’s Concerto for Four Pianos. And that performance was probably going to be a North Bay premiere. However, it wasn’t the highl
CHAMBER REVIEW

Trio Navarro at SSU Easter Sunday Concert

ROREM'S KNOTTY SPRING MUSIC PLAYED BY TRIO NAVARRO AT SSU CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 24, 2011

Continuing a stellar history of innovative piano trio programming, the resident SSU Trio Navarro closed their season April 24 in an Easter Sunday concert replete with two large novelties and a slightly more familiar work by Beethoven.

Before 90 listeners in the Green Music Center’s orchestra rehearsal room, the Navarro first tackled Rorem’s Spring Music, an eclectic 1990 work premiered by the Beaux Arts Trio. In five extended movements, the music isn’t easy to easily assimilate and in his introductory remarks violinist Roy Malan alluded to the composer’s clever compositional nature and the sobriquet of music’s “bad boy.” Both references have validity, though in at least the last century George Antheil could lay claim to both epithets. But Rorem is very much alive, each of his many books a salacious experience and his large oeuvre provocative, especially in the non-vocal pieces.

The Spring Music I found haunting, the three instrumental lines often far apart and then often in unison, and an insistent rhythmic pulse everywhere in evidence save for a lyrical Fantasia section. In this section cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel has long solos in a low register and in duos with Roy Malan’s violin line. Low frequencies in the cello were rich. Pianist Marilyn Thompson never overpowered her colleagues and the part oddly was frequently removed from the instrumental texture with loud bass chord crashes and propulsive right-hand skips for the piano and high tessitura for the violin.

This is a work of sharp contrasts and often contradictory character, and also it’s a piece of glorious instrumental sound that the composer manipulates deftly and the afternoon’s highlight for this reviewer. Was it well played? I suspect so, at least on a single hearing amid the less-than-reverberant acoustics of the room.

The first half ended with a late 19th Century novelty, Carl Frühling’s A Minor Trio, Op. 40. It’s Brahmsian from the first measure and through four movements never retreats from an initial bucolic outlook. There are continual harmonic references to Franck’s Quintet, written 20 years earlier, and to the music of Louis Vierne and St. Saens’ lush tone poem “Omphales’s Spinning Wheel.” At times thick and insurgent harmonies blurred the lyrical nature of the work and it was at turns repetitious. The Navarro played it with gusto and a sprinkle of wrong notes in the piano. The big Brahms-like phrases in the coda of the finale Allegro vivace brought this strange work to a powerful conclusion.

If Rorem could be described as clever and Frühling imitative, neither could be said of Beethoven and his E-Flat Major Trio, Op. 70, No. 2, the sole second half work. The Bonn master is endlessly inventive in this cheerful trio, a close partner in style and sound to the Op. 69 cello sonata. There was cohesive playing in the opening Poco sostenuto as well as the following two Allegretto movements. The Narvarro’s strengths were readily apparent, rhythmic security and etched vocal lines, but also some sloppy ensemble playing and persistent intonation problems from Mr. Malan. In the Allegro finale there was stylish playing, the movement’s joy readily communicated. No encore was offered.

Finishing another exemplary season the Trio Navarro continued its long string of exploration of provocative works with the Rorem’s bracing music overshadowing the lyrical Frühling and the systematic Beethoven reading. An energetic balance indeed for a warm spring day concert.