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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
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
CHAMBER REVIEW

Trio Navarro April 6 in Weill Hall

THEMATIC OPULENCE FROM THE TRIO NAVARRO

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 6, 2014

Northern California’s Trio Navarro presented just two works in an April 6 Weill Hall concert, an event with consummate playing, inspired drama and ample thematic richness.

Schubert’s B-Flat Major Trio, D. 898, was the evening’s highlight and was familiar fare for the estimable Navarro. The wonderful opening Allegro Moderato was initially played with restraint but became warmly lyrical in the exposition and development, yet devoid of any sentimentality. This is music of eternal sunshine.

The sublime Andante featured the duet work of cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel and violinist Victor Romasevich. Their playing was tender but without the slow tempo and sweeping ritards of the iconic Cortot-Thibaud-Casals recording. The many modulations were deftly performed and the ensemble balanced. Pianist Marilyn Thompson was always discretely supportive. With only 65 in the hall that seats more than 1,400, the Trio’s sound was direct and clear below a mezzo-forte with a long reverberation time.

In the concluding Scherzo and Rondo movements the work’s length in less capable hands can sound overly extended, but the Navarro shaped the rise and fall of phrases lovingly, and the chorale in the Scherzo’s middle was elegant. After all, for musicians Schubert has heavenly length.

After intermission Arensky’s first Trio, the now-popular D Minor of Op. 32, was played very well but in the end wasn’t totally convincing. As with the Schubert, the Navarro opted for tempos that were at times brisk with repeats played at a volume and with rhythms that were the same as in exposition. It worked well with the Schubert but didn’t quite capture the ambiance in music inspired by Tchaikovsky and foreshadowing Rachmaninoff.

The majestic first movement theme was played strongly but tonally thin by Mr. Romasevich, and the piano sound in fast runs at half pedal was indistinct and lacking the needed finger staccato. Acoustics in the nearly empty hall contributed to this pianistic blur; the opening of the smaller Schroeder Hall cannot come too soon. The trio in the Scherzo was played in a gay style, almost a waltz, and Arensky’s melodic gifts were spotlighted in the Elegia, begun with Mr. Romasevich’s retuning his violin and a subsequent fervid low register duet with Ms. Brindel.

In sum the performance was never pedestrian but also never quite seized Arensky’s subtle lyricism and late romantic-era phrasing. Clearly Arensky’s neglected second Trio in F Minor, with its poetic cello writing, should be on the Navarro’s list of scores to perform.