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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....
REVIEW

The Trio Navarro

ARENSKY TOPS RUSSIAN TROIKA

by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Trio Navarro, Sonoma State’s resident ensemble, played the second of their season’s four concerts on Nov. 9 in Ives Hall, juxtaposing three rarely heard works of disparate length and impact.

The concert began with Rachmaninoff’s early G Minor Trio (“Elegiaque”), composed in 1892, long before the more revered works in the composer’s canon. The composition received a full-throated reading, with proper references to the Tchaikovsky Trio of a decade earlier and a wonderful cello line from Jill Rachuy Brindel. As always, the acoustics of Ives 119 favor low frequencies, and diminish upper string warmth. Roy Malan seemed tentative with the violin part, deferring to his partners. The nostalgic and sad ending, with the main theme repeated and underscored by piano tremolos, was stretched out and lovely. The Elegiaque is a work not often heard, and it fades easily from memory.

Even less canonic than the Rachmaninoff are the Four Miniatures, Op. 18/24, by the Swiss/Russian composer Paul Juon. Oddly, each of the four movements has a different opus number. The Navarro played all of these well, especially the sensuous opening Reverie, with its hints of the second Arensky Trio. The violin and cello interplay here and in the ethereal Elegie Andante Cantabile were elegant outpourings of sound. The march-like second movement and the waltz-like finale paraded an extravagant piano part, performed with secure rhythms and clarity by Marilyn Thompson. The Miniatures were well worth hearing, but they also seem fated to slip from memory.

Quite another matter is the Arensky Trio in D Minor, Op. 32, which occupied the entire second half. I must confess a penchant for this work, beginning many years ago with a Los Angeles performance by Pennario, Heifetz and Piatigorsky. The trio can be played rather fast and secco as the Beaux Arts Trio does, or in the lush “leaning into the phrase” manner of the savory Borodin Trio recording. The Navarro adopted the quick-tempo approach, which is certainly legitimate but seems to lack the necessary languor. Thompson used many slight ritardandos at the ends of phrases, allowing some violin voice leading in the opening Allegro moderato to bring forth the noble theme.

The following Scherzo produced intriguing plucking string sounds and a swaggering middle section. Thompson pushed the tempos throughout, often bordering on raucous playing, and half-pedaled most of the runs. The celestial Adagio belongs to the cello, and Brindel’s bow control was exemplary, the arpeggios even and sweet. The unison cello-violin ending was transfixing, with the last chords reluctantly given to the piano.

The dramatic finale begins again with a nod towards Tchaikovsky, the cello introducing the theme and then giving it to the increasingly singing violin. This juxtaposition of drama and lyricism goes through three cycles, and then the big theme from the first movement surprisingly appears. Arensky seems to want to ensure the supremacy of the piano, and Thompson seized the moment and drove things into a heroic conclusion.

The Arensky trio is a formidable composition, and it was expertly played by the Navarro. For future programs, I vote for the arcane and Schumannesque second Arensky Trio, Op. 73.

The Navarro was in fine form and provided for 70 people a classical companion to the memorial music held in the adjacent Warren Auditorium for the late SSU faculty member, Mel Graves. Mention should be made of the upgraded printed programs, more colorful and informative than the vapid specimens distributed at previous years’ concerts.