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SIX GUITARISTS IN UNIQUE NAPA RECITAL
by Gary Digman
Sunday, July 25, 2021
The first Napa Valley Guitar Festival was held at Napa’s First Presbyterian Church July 25, and featured performances from six classical guitarists. The Church is an iconic structure in downtown Napa, its huge white presence dominating the scene, and the white theme continues inside punctuated by be
Chamber
CLARA SCHUMANN TRIO COMMANDS VOM CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT AT HANNA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 24, 2021
The Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Series has begun several virtual and a few live concerts in its new seventh season, some broadcast from Sonoma’s Hanna Center Hall and some in posh local venues. July 24’s video had a small live audience and a well-produced video program of three works. Titled “
Chamber
EXEMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MENDO FESTIVAL FT. BRAGG CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Faced with the impossibility of presenting concerts in the iconic large white tent on the bluff, the Mendocino Music Festival opted to use Ft. Bragg’s Cotton Auditorium for ten events in the abbreviated 35th season. San Francisco’s Alexander String Quartet played July 21 to a fully masked audience
Chamber
ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING AT PIANOSONOMA CONCERT IN SCHROEDER HALL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
After a dark year bereft of live performance, pianoSonoma launched July 20 the first Vino & Vibrato concert of the 2021 season in Sonoma State's Schroeder Hall, albeit sadly senza vino due to Covid protocols. Three exceptional musicians showered the audience with an interesting variety of pia
Chamber
RARELY-PLAYED SCHUMANN HIGHLIGHTS HEALDSBURG RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 10, 2021
Brave New Music sporadically produces concerts in and around Healdsburg, and July 10’s violin recital in downtown St. Paul’s Church must have been one of the first post-lockdown, post-be-extra-careful classical music concerts in Sonoma County's summer season. New Music Founder Gary McLaughlin with
Chamber
ECHOS ON A WARM SUMMER NIGHT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, July 10, 2021
ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s first concert in a year and a half, “A Musical Promenade,” was a promenade indeed. When patrons arrived at San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for the 6:00 performance July 10, they were funneled through the garden to the Duncan Hall patio, where folding chairs were set
Chamber
LONG DISTANCE LOVE BEGINS VOM SUMMER FESTIVAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Thursday, June 24, 2021
The Valley of the Moon Music Festival offered a 7th season preview June 24 with a stunning online concert, aptly named Long Distance Love, featuring inspired performances of Beethoven's short song cycle An die ferne Geliebte,, and selections from Brahms’ beloved Liebeslieder Wal
Recital
ROMERO'S ARTISTRY IN SLV RECITAL PROGRAMMING AND PERFORMANCE
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Gustavo Romero has been an admired visitor to North Bay stages, playing over a decade recitals at Dominican University, the Music at Oakmont concerts and at the Spring Lake Village Concert Series. He returned June 2 to SLV in a virtual recital, videoed from his home concert hall the University of N
RUBICON'S VIRTUAL CONCERT A MALANGE OF CONTRASTS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 16, 2021
The inaugural concert of a new Mendocino County chamber group is a reason for celebration, and the Rubicon Trio made the most of a mixed musical menu during a May16 virtual concert. Presented by the Ukiah Symphony Orchestra as the last in their “Salons with the Symphony” Series, the Rubicon began w
Recital
PIANO VIRTUOSITY IN YAKUSHEV'S REDWOOD ARTS RECITAL
by Nicki Bell
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev’s recital for the Redwood Arts Council was perhaps the local season’s virtual music at the greatest distance, as the filming May 16 came from a church in St. Petersburg. And good filming it was, with multiple camera viewpoints of the church, full and split screens and
CHAMBER REVIEW

Trio Navarro Feb. 17: V. Romasevich, M. Thompson, J. Brindel

UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019

The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Arensky, but the second from each composer, the C Minor (Op. 66) and F Minor (Op. 73), respectively.

But first came Haydn’s B-Flat Major Trio (Hob. XV:20), a short effervescent work that puts the lie to the contention that Haydn’s piano trios are accompanied solos. The opening allegro rustled along, bucolic and never demanding, contrasting pianist Marilyn Thompson’s long introduction to the andante with cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel and violinist Victor Romasevich playing variations. Mr. Romasevich played a lovely solo in the concluding finale.

The appetizer over, the Mendelssohn began with a wet, rich agitated string sound and a more leisurely tempo than expected with half-pedaled piano runs supporting a fine ensemble. The allegro energetico’s big false cadence before the end moved into a rush to the finish, an easy contrast to the lovely andante movement. Here Mr. Romasevich built many small climaxes in a romantic mix, all concluding with two shimmering pianissimo chords.

Mendelssohn writes scherzos like no other, and this five-minute movement was played in a pulsating rhythm with many repeated motifs and spiccato bow technique and humor. The Navarro again chose in the concluding allegro appassionato a tempo that was not racehorse, though surges of joy and vigor were everywhere, as was a hint of tragedy (but just a hint) in this virtuoso performance.

Following intermission I moved from the back of the hall to the second row, as piano legato is blurred way back in Schroeder, and much clearer up front with of course increased violin and cello volume. The more husky sound was welcome in the Arensky, a work from 1905 that has copious references to Chopin and especially Schumann. A quick tempo and meandering themes characterized the first movement, luxuriously harmonic but sharply different from contemporary Russians Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein, and the beguiling slow pace of the gold standard Borodin Trio’s recording from 1990. The accelerando at the end was explosive.

In the heart-on-sleeve romance the Navarro eschewed much rubati and kept the music from ever becoming cloying. A hard thing to do, given Ms. Brindel’s lovely ascending cello lines weaving about Mr. Romasevich’s elegant high register playing, and Ms. Thompson’s sensuous opening piano solo. The scherzo was dominated by both strings pizzicato that related to a waltz tune, with Ms. Thompson taking up rippling arpeggios in support.

Playing in the virtuosic closing variations (6) was at times in dance forms, nostalgic, and then busting out with fast scale playing and increased sonorities. Nothing was held back in this stirring performance where each variation had an individual character, with sprightly turns in the third and fifth. The Trio deftly played the surprising return of the first movement’s main theme with a subtle and slight change, making the composition’s quiet close all the more effective.