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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 and Friends / Sunday, October 4, 2015
Victor Romasevich, violin; Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello; Marilyn Thompson, piano

Trio Navarro in 2014

ARCANE ARENSKY TRIO HIGHLIGHTS NAVARRO'S SEASON OPENING CONCERT IN SCHROEDER

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 4, 2015

One would have thought that the glitz surrounding Lang Lang’s 101 Pianists Foundation program Oct. 4 in Weill would have upstaged chamber music at the same time in nearby Schroeder Hall. Not to worry, as the Trio Navarro continues to perform sometimes-neglected gems from the trio literature with a level of artistry that the Chinese superstar might grandly applaud.

In Rimsky-Korsakov’s My Musical Life he writes in 1905 that the works and life of his pupil Anton Arensky “…will soon be forgotten.” And that has mostly been so, with the exception of piano bagatelles, some suites, two string quartets and the first Trio in D Minor. The Navarro programmed the rarely heard second Trio in F Minor, Op. 73, for the second half of the concert, and scored a minor triumph with it before an audience of 125.

The Trio choose quick tempos and clipped phrases in the opening movement, eschewing extended ritards and the voice leading one hears in recordings of Arensky by Russian musicians. It’s Tchaikovsky influenced a bit by Schumann. A surprisingly movement ending accelerandowas played swiftly and vigorously. In the lyrical second movement pianist Marilyn Thompson played the opening expressive theme and throughout the music from 1905 is achingly rich, but even here in opulent thematic voices traded between violinist Victor Romasevich and cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel one hoped for a little more loosening of tempo. Mr. Romasevich held one high note at the end of an ascending phrase with just the right character of suspense and bright tone.

A Scherzo comprises a wonderful trio in a waltz form, and the concluding “Tema con Variazioni” with a big cello part portraying music that is less exalted than the preceding movements. It’s episodic until the return of the first-movement’s dark theme, and the Navarro played it with conviction. Brahms’ last movements are always imposing; Arensky’s are less so.

Before intermission the Navarro played trios by Haydn (B Flat Major, Hob XV:20) and the venerable Dvorak E Minor (“Dumky”). Haydn wrote more than 40 piano trios, and in most the cello supports the violin’s stating principal themes. It was this way in the first two movements with Mr. Romasevich’s light vibrato and a simple and long introductory line from Ms. Thompson in the Andante Cantabile. At times this Trio sounded like an accompanied piano solo, brisk and and pungent.

Dvorak’s famous Dumky has often been played by the Navarro, but with violinist Roy Malan. It’s a masterful work of vitality and infectious Czech rhythmic power in six alternating dumka of festive gaiety and yearning, though alike in character. The Navarro performed the demanding rhythm patterns with seasoned artistry. A highlight was the lovely recitative in the Poco Adagio sounding with Ms. Brindel’s plaintive cello melody, and the Cantilena in the piano part. In the fourth dumka again the cello carried a melancholy theme over the bass lines of piano and violin, and this created a sense of warm calm.

The final dumka (Lento) had the Navarro playing up the disparity of a grave pathetic theme with a wild quick section, and Ms. Brindel as earlier had prominence with her assured cello technique.

The repertoire selection and performance gave me no reason to change a decade-long view that the Navarro is the best resident piano trio in Northern California.