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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

Tilden Trio

TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 3, 2019

Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall.

Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and group temperament contributed to subtle but discernable stylistic differences, with the Navarro perhaps more elegant and the Tilden more gregarious. Such differences in chamber music are always welcome.

Dvorak’s eminent E Minor “Dumky” Trio, Op. 90, was the afternoon’s highlight and drew an athletic reading that was alternatively fiery and gay, and then melancholic and sad. Each of the six movements was played with thematically contrasting motives, some rustic and toccata like, and the restless music from 1891 was never quiet for long. Violinist Sarn Oliver deftly changed his sound in fast passages from the opening lento maestoso – allegro to restless high register playing with eerie falling fifths and a “far away” unison string duo with cellist Peter Wyrick’s dark-hued sound. Strange modulations characterize one instrument’s following another with the Tilden’s performance full of folk-music charm laced with mastery of the work’s complex structure and lack of cyclic sonata form.

It was a propulsive reading with the dance aspects emphasized, all the more stark with many melancholic and rhythmic parts and ostinato playing in the andante moderato from pianist June Choi Oh. The counterpoint was everywhere clear and the Tilden’s conception of Dvorak’s greatest chamber work was extravagant and vital.

Mr. Oliver and Ms. Choi Oh opened the concert with Brahms’ great G Major Sonata, Op. 78. Judicious tempos were the rule of the performance and the violinist’s tonal projection was not large, but certainly big enough when the soaring melodic line demanded it. As in the Dvorak, Ms. Choi Oh was not a reticent pianist and in the desirable bass heavy lines toward the glorious ending of the vivace ma non troppo the playing has to reach majestic heights, and the duo captured them. There is a C-Sharp octave in the piano’s deep bass six bars before the end that for a moment covered the violin line, perhaps needed in a performance that nailed Brahms’ muscular genius, and here it was all of a piece.

Pianissimo and double stop playing in the laconic adagio was lovely, leading to a richly hued fermata at the end, and a seamless transition to the finale (allegro molto) where Mr. Oliver’s pliant phrasing and warm tonal color led inexorably to a quietly radiant finish. The duo was able to deftly connect the thematic relationships of the first and last movements in an interpretation ultimately more poetic than burley. It was a stylish and convincing reading.

Ending the first half was Suk’s early C Minor Trio, Op. 2, in a performance than could have been a North Bay premiere. There are echoes of Dvorak and Dohnanyi in the music but not a whiff of contemporary German or Russian composers. Ms. Choi Oh spoke from the stage about Suk and the influence of Dvorak and Brahms. The playing of the opening vivace ma non troppo had a healthy Bohemian glow with potent chords from the piano and the theme in the strings.

It was followed by the most “Dvorakian” adagio, the first charming theme played by the cello, and in subtle crescendo and decrescendo and enchanting unison playing from Mr. Wyrick and Mr. Oliver. At places it sounded lightly rhapsodic. A brisk tempo and syncopated rhythms were heard in the finale, with Ms. Choi Oh’s energetic playing carrying the agitated music to sparkling conclusion.

Applause from the 100 attendees was ample.