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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
Sonoma State University Department of Music / Sunday, November 24, 2013
Trio Navarro: Roy Malan, violin; Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello; Marilyn Thompson, piano; Nancy Ellis, viola; Victor Romasevich, violin

(l to r) Ellis, Thompson, Brindel and Romasevich Backstage in Weill

DISCOVERY ANEW FOR THE NAVARRO TRIO IN WEILL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 24, 2013

A major part of the Trio Navarro’s approach to chamber music has been discovery, as over many years they have explored novel (if not new or radical) corners of the small ensemble repertoire. November 24’s concert in Weill Hall was no exception as an unfamiliar piano quartet and trio were the evening’s most intriguing offerings.

Georgy Catoire’s lively and atmospheric A Minor Quartet opened the concert, and the Trio’s Victor Romasevich (violin), cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel and Marilyn Thompson (piano) were joined by violist Nancy Ellis. A frequent past guest, Ms. Ellis seamlessly blended with her colleagues in the unique fabric of Catoire’s music. The hothouse character of the quasi Wagner and late romantic score was in the first movement constantly reminiscent of Schoenberg’s orchestrated version of the tone poem Verklärte Nacht from 1917. This is surging and sexy music.

As in recent Navarro concerts Mr. Romasevich sat in for perennial stalwart Roy Malan, and elicited a different high string sound. His tone throughout the Catoire is not as wide and vibrato-laden as from Mr. Malan, but has a penetrating quality that easily stood out from the two lower string instruments. He also didn’t take several phrase-opening notes cleanly but as the work moved into the final Allegro he was sure-footed and sonorous. The ending gave hints of Ravel’s music and the unexpected tempo acceleration brought the 1916 piece to a ringing if not loud conclusion.

Mr. Romasevich was again in the forefront of a performance of Josif Andriasov’s C Minor Trio, Op. 7, as he had been a student of the composer and is a champion of Andriasov’s music. In quirky ways the 1957 Trio was aligned with some of the Catoire Quintet harmonies, although the Trio is a darker and more compelling work. In the first Allegro movement the ensemble playing was admirable, the violin line soaring often into the highest register even during several bucolic sections. The second movement had references to Shostakovich and Mieczyslaw Weinberg and was idiomatically played, as were the slow march motives of the finale.

Both the Catoire and Andriasov works demand of the listener an acceptance of a string and piano fabric of sound rarely encountered, and might not be to everyone’s taste. I found all the music persuasive and energetically performed.

No such lack of aquaintence came with the concluding work, Schumann E-Flat Major Quartet, Op. 47. The tempos throughout the four-movement piece from 1842 were judicious and Ms. Thompson’s deft playing captured Schumann’s bittersweet melancholy. The dynamic Scherzo featured some of the best string playing of the concert, the violin notes carrying to the back of the sparsely-attended hall and Ms. Brindel’s cello line was opulent. In the Andante’s “heart on sleeve” principal theme Ms. Ellis carried on fetching duos with Ms. Brindel and Mr. Romasevich, and the slow counterpoint was beguiling. There was no rush to get anywhere and the four musicians were comfortable giving each of their colleagues a turn at voice leading.

The Vivace finale was played without undue hurry but with Ms. Thompson forging ahead several feverant climaxes were built and the Quartet’s conclusion was decisive