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Recital
DYNAMIC PIANISM IN YAKUSHEV MARIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev arrived Jan. 23 at his Mill Valley Chamber Music Society recital with the repute of playing loud and fast and delivering charming introductory musical remarks to his audience. He was true to form in Mill Valley’s Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church, preceding Haydn’s sple
Symphony
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 9, 2022
The Jan. 9 Santa Rosa Symphony concert was supposed to feature the world premiere of Gabriella Smith’s first symphony, but it ended up featuring another type of premiere: a concert that was conceived, rehearsed and performed in less than eight hours. Symphony staff learned on Sunday morning that so
Choral and Vocal
AN OLD FRIEND RETURNS TO WEILL IN STERLING ABS MESSIAH PERFORMANCE
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, December 19, 2021
A tremendous accomplishment by the American Bach Soloists Dec. 19 was near perfect performance of Handel's Messiah in Weill Hall. Long an annual tradition at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, the ABS took to the road and delivered a Christmas gift of epic proportions to an obviously thrilled and enth
Symphony
SHOSTAKOVICH FIFTH THUNDERS AT WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 5, 2021
In a new season marketed as “Classical Reunion,” the Santa Rosa Symphony made a palpable connection with its audience at the early December set of three standing ovation concerts in Weill Hall. The December 5 concert, with 1,000 attending, is reviewed here. Vaughan Williams’ popular Fantasia on a T
Chamber
THE LINCOLN RETURNS WITH CLARKE'S PUNGENT TRIO
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, November 18, 2021
There were many familiar faces Nov. 18 during Music at Oakmont’s initial concert of the season, but perhaps the most necessary were the three musicians of the Lincoln Piano Trio, the Chicago-based group that has performed often in Oakmont since 2006. A smaller than unusual audience in Berger Audito
Symphony
NOSTALGIC BARBER KNOXVILLE AT SO CO PHIL JACKSON THEATER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
In their first Jackson Theater appearance of the new season the Sonoma County Philharmonic presented Nov. 14 a program devoid of novelty, but showcasing the “People’s Orchestra” in splendid performance condition after a long COVID-related layoff. Conductor Norman Gamboa drew a committed and boister
Chamber
THRILLING PIANO QUINTETS IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 14, 2021
The Mill Valley Chamber Music Society sprang back to life on November 14 when a stellar ensemble from the Manhattan Chamber Players, a New York-based collective, arrived to perform two piano quintets: Vaughn-Williams’ in C Minor (1903), little known and rarely performed; and Schubert’s in A Major D.
Chamber
MUSCULAR BRAHMS FROM IVES COLLECTIVE IN GLASER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Leaving SRJC’s Newman Auditorium for the first time in decades, the College’s Chamber Concert Series presented a season-opening concert Nov. 14 in Santa Rosa’s Glaser Center with the four-musician Bay-Area based Ives Collective. The season, the first given since 2020, is dedicated to Series Founder
Symphony
MONUMENTAL BRAHMS SYMPHONY HIGHLIGHTS MARIN SYMPHONY RETURN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 7, 2021
In the waning COVID pandemic the Marin Symphony is one of the last Bay Area orchestras to return to the stage, and they did with considerable fanfare Nov. 7 before 1,200 in Civic Center Auditorium, with resident conductor Alasdair Neale leading a demanding concert of Brahms, Schumann and New York-ba
Symphony
APOLLO'S FIRE LIGHTS UP VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Long ago the Canadian violin virtuoso Gil Shaham played a program in Weill Hall of solo Bach, with a visual backdrop of slowly developing visuals, such as a pokey flower opening over four minutes. The Bach was sensational, and some in the audience liked the photos but many found them disconcerting,
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.