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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

Romasevich, Thompson and Brindel

A BRUCH SURPRISE IN TRIO'S SCHROEDER CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 26, 2014

Part of the Trio Navarro’s sterling reputation rests with the rare repertoire they perform. So it was a bit of a surprise Oct. 26 in Schroeder Hall when they programmed popular works by Beethoven and Rachmaninoff. Somehow Max Bruch pieces managed to sneak into the mix.

The Bruch in a way stole the show. Four selections were played from a work transcribed from the original Op. 83 for viola, piano and clarinet. The Navarro performed Nos. 2, 5, 6 and 7, all in a minor key save for the last. In the opening B Minor part, cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel and pianist Marilyn Thompson gave the music a surging darkness that carried over to the next part (Andante) in F Minor. This music was way out of fashion when composed in 1910, and there is no hint of Dvorak, Rubinstein or Tchaikovsky, but sporadically fleeting Schumann harmonies are heard.

The common thread in the Bruch is lush romanticism, and the Trio’s performers alternated stating the theme in the G Minor “Night Song.” Violinist Victor Romasevich’s tone is not especially rich in harmonics, but it is penetrating, and he never covers the cello line.

The concluding B Major Allegro alternated light-hearted rhythms that at times turned dark and demanding. With only 80 people in a hall seating 250, some piano runs were acoustically muddy, though the string sound was always direct and vivid.

Composed in 1811, the Beethoven B Flat Trio of Op .97 (Archduke) comprised the entire second half, and the Navarro gave it a dramatic and spacious reading. Ms. Thompson started the initial Allegro at a fast clip, and the Navarro played the iconic work in a thoroughly modern style, eschewing the heart-on-sleeve approach of past performances by trios such as Cortot, Thibaud and Casals. In the lovely Andante Cantabile, the music was a question-and-answer of plaintive voices, with Ms. Brindel’s resonant cello baritone sounding out strongly in the hall.

Rachmaninoff’s G Minor Trio (“Élégiaque”) opened the concert, an early work from 1892 that has all the seeds of the composer’s ambrosial harmonies in the later cello sonata and the famous concertos and symphonies. Again Ms. Brindel had a starring role, trading dramatic outbursts with Mr. Romasevich’s energetic violin part.

As might be expected from the great pianist-composer, the piano sound could be dominant, though Ms. Thompson attentively worked to balance her sonority with that of the ensemble.

This concert gave me no reason to alter a long-ago observation that the Trio Navarro is the finest resident classical music trio in Northern California.