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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 April 8 in the Green Music Center's Schroeder Hall

TRIO NAVARRO'S POPULAR FARE IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 8, 2018

Long time Classical Sonoma readers may recall many Trio Navarro concert reviews that lauded their virtuosity and interest in rarely played repertoire. The April 8 concert in Schroeder Hall before 85 chamber music fans featured sterling performances but had a mostly conservative menu of popular trios. Well, with three masterpieces in the trio literature, one can’t quibble.

Rachmaninoff’s early G Minor Trio (“Elégiac”) that began the second half was the only work could be said to be uncommon, and the Navarro managed to convey the hothouse but at times lugubrious harmonies in an intense 13-minute span. Similar in many ways to the composer’s 1901 Cello Sonata in the same key, the playing of the Elégiac began with a shimmering non-stopped string sound from violinist Victor Romasevich and cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel. Pianist Marilyn Thompson played the big mid-piece solo forcefully, and it’s a noble theme with lots of notes, all of them good notes. Tempos were generally judicious.

Mendelssohn’s wonderful D Minor Trio, Op. 49, closed the program, and it’s arguably the most performed classical piano trio, and fits the Navarro like an old slipper. As Ms. Brindel set out the noble first theme I thought of how many times she must have played the same notes as a student, in rehearsals and in concerts. One thousand times? Five thousand? In the molto allegro Mr. Romasevich varied his phrasing in repeats, the ensemble was balanced and the D minor key potently presented. String vibrato was deft, limited at times, and wide at times.

In the lovely andante and elfin spritzy scherzo the performance was fluid, especially in the richly poetic andante where the wistful piano line leads into music refined and grateful for each of the instruments. Nothing sounded affected or outsized. The finale (allegro assai) was also impeccably fluid, but I kept listening for more piquant inner voices, as for example in interpretations where on page 41 the performer plays an ascending piano line in triplets with two jolting dissonance chords. Dissonance in Mendelssohn? Rarely from the elegant Navarro in this music, or at least not in this concert.

In a slight programming twist, the afternoon’s major work, Schubert’s B Flat Trio, D. 898, occupied the entire first half. It’s a long work, lyrical and then dramatic at turns, and the opening allegro moderato had a beautiful second theme statement by Ms. Brindel, quickly taken over by Mr. Romasevich. The playing was muscular when needed and the manifold key modulations, lots and lots of them, made the many sections sound fresh. The radiant themes played in the andante surely tugged many listeners’ heartstrings, and recalled Anton Rubinstein’s comment: “Ah, Schubert, eternal sunshine in music.” Schroeder’s stage piano has warmly voiced hammers and Ms. Thompson was everywhere attentive to her partners and their beguiling and florid string lyricism, never covering them.

Listeners looking for an interpretation of old fashioned romanticism, such as the legendary Cortot-Thibaud-Casals recordings of the Schubert and the Mendelssohn, did not find it in the Navarro’s approach. As throughout the afternoon a warm blended sound seemed their goal, with less interest paid to sharply etched instrumental lines, extended ritards or even minimal departures from the printed score.

With the chamber music season ending there is no reason to alter the long past observation that the exalted Navarro is the preeminent resident piano trio in Northern California.