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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
Mastercard Performance Series / Sunday, January 29, 2017
Joseph Kalichstein, piano; Jaime Laredo, violin; Sharon Robinson, cello

Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio

ENSEMBLE PERFECTION IN KLR TRIO'S 40TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 29, 2017

Longevity has its place in classical music. Composers and especially conductors live a long time, and venerable piano trios can linger for years. One can recall the great Cortot-Thibaud-Casals staying on the international scene for decades, and more recently Stern-Istomin-Rose, Oistrakh-Oborin-Knushevitsky and the Beaux Arts.

A Weill Hall audience of 600 welcomed Jan. 29 the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio on their 40th Anniversary tour, and they began quickly with Beethoven’s “Gassenhauer” Trio in B-Flat Major, Op. 11. Here the smooth ensemble and deft pacing that would be heard all evening were immediately telling. The heart of the 1797 work came with Ms. Robinson’s lovely cello introduction in the adagio of a simple, almost cutesy theme, that in Beethoven’s hands becomes complex and convincing. The changes of texture and tempos were dramatic, but always in proportion. The KLR interpretations have admirable balance and continuity.

In the concluding allegretto the pianist Mr. Kalichstein had the biggest part, and he shaped the phrases with changes of touch and attention to pedaling over bar lines. One can’t forget that Beethoven was a virtuoso pianist, and in these variations the composer took a theme bordering on the banal (as he did in the Diabelli and Op. 34 Prometheus Variations) and turned it into precious metal.

Certain iconic works, however old, don’t seem to lose their shock value, with two examples being Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” and Bartok’s Piano Sonata from 1926. Shostakovich’s Trio No. 2 (Op. 67), written in 1944, is one of these. Beginning with extended high register cello harmonics that come out of the ether, the subsequent entrance of the piano immediately confirmed Shostakovich as the author. All memories of the Beethoven were erased. The dissonant themes cried out painfully through violinist Jaime Laredo’s silvery though not overly powerful sound. Mr. Laredo’s skilled spiccato bow danced through the scherzo where the music recalled the Op. 57 Quintet written fours earlier.

Mr. Kalichstein’s majestic piano chords that opened the largo gave a feeling of inexorable sadness and gloom, intensified by rich cello vibrato and two repeated ending chords. The music, sarcastic and somber as it was, faded into a mist. Writing for the cello here presaged the 1959 Shostakovich Cello Concerto.

Thrusting and jabbing phrases characterized the playing of the finale with lots of intense bass chords in the piano. The return of the first-movement’s theme led to a potent march played forcefully by Mr. Laredo and Ms. Robinson, and finally an almost inaudible chord.

Following intermission Brahms’ early B Major Trio, Op. 8, was played. The critical entrance of the violin after the opening beguiling piano-cello statement was perfectly on pitch, and Mr. Laredo’s high register featured a sweet but never a thick sonority. He is a master at subtle small crescendos and diminuendos, many at low volume. The last of the many thematic statements grew to a sculpted and needed ritard just before the allegro con brio’s end.

Spicy piano flourishes and spiccato cello bowing highlighted the scherzo, and the lovely second theme was played in violin and cello unisons. Mr. Laredo’s string harmonic ended the movement. Mr. Kalichstein played elegant phrases in the adagio with echoes of the slow movements of the much later Brahms’ C Minor Piano Quartet, and did something rarely heard – he played solo chords selectively in the right hand a tiny bit ahead of the left-hand chords. It was a fetching effect.

Surging romanticism came to the fore in the finale, with the passion level up. At times Mr. Kalichstein’s sound covered that of his partners, not surprising in a composition of such ardor. He took the bottom octave B chord at the end with a loud swack.

In response to continued applause Mr. Laredo announced an encore, “Summertime” from Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess,” arranged by the film and pop composer Andy Stein. The Trio’s performance was laced with still summer heat, lazy with cut notes and little string slides. The audience loved it.

Nicki Bell contributed to this review.