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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...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Trio Navarro / Sunday, February 3, 2013
Marilyn Thompson, piano; Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello; Roy Malan, violin.

Trio Navarro

FROM THE MAGISTERIAL TO THE MACABRE

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 3, 2013

Two more disparate chamber works could not be imagined in Weill Hall Feb. 3 when the Trio Navarro presented the Shostakovich Trio in E Minor and Dvorak’s “Dumky,” also in E minor. Both masterpieces have riveting audience interest but are worlds apart in structure and harmonic language.

Dvorak’s trio, popular since its premiere in 1891, received a committed and generous reading from the Navarro. The muddy acoustics of the Nov. 18 Schumann Quintet performance by the Navarro Chamber players had vanished, replaced by a direct Weill sound, albeit with a long reverb time due to the tiny audience. There was generous melodic interplay in the opening Lento Maestoso, and the Trio caught the nostalgia of the C-Sharp Minor Adagio. Violinist Roy Malan played here with a wide vibrato and suitable folk rhythms. His double stops at the movement’s end were luxuriant.

The lovely Andante third movement seems to be old hat to this estimable Trio, and they played with a warm sound to let the inherent lyricism shine. In the following two movements, the Trio’s insistent stress on instrumental balance, even in the swirl of dissonances (yes, dissonances in Dvorak, seconds and thirds), was exceptionally rewarding. Jill Brindel’s cello parts in the fifth movement had long sections, sans rubato, where the sound comes low on the fingerboard with unstopped strings. Pianist Marilyn Thompson played off these phrases and carried the Navarro into a magisterial finale that alternated between yearning and wild gaiety. It was a reading of stable nobility and vitality.

Following intermission, the disturbing Shostakovich Trio No. 2, Op. 67, completed the concert. Ms. Brindel played the opening disquieting cello line harmonics with ardor, though not note perfect. All through this demanding 1944 work, the frequent high tessitura of the violin and cello, contrasting with Ms. Thompson tolling deep bass notes and chords, produced a spiritual and at times menacing sonic tapestry. In many sections the Navarro underplayed the overall drama, concentrating on the relentless drive of the music. The second movement Allegro had echoes of the earlier Shostakovich Quintet in G (Op. 57). The somber orchestral piano chords in the third movement (Largo) began a slow march, almost a threnody, and Mr. Malan’s violin playing bordered on the funereal. It was a lament played with care and conviction.

The finale was portrayed by the Navarro as a macabre dance, with frequent cello and violin pizzicato, and an ethereal pianissimo conclusion. There was no thought of an encore, as the great Russian composer’s sorrowful musical outcry was moving to the degree that verbal or instrumental bonbons would be paltry fare.

On balance this was the most stirring chamber music concert I have yet heard in Weill, and there is no reason to change my nearly decade-old pronouncement that the Navarro is the finest piano trio before the public in Northern California.