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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

Trio Navarro Sept. 29 in Schroeder Hall

DEMANDING PIANO TRIOS ADORN TRIO NAVARRO'S OPENING CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 29, 2019

Continuing a decades-long search for innovative piano trio repertoire, Sonoma State’s resident Trio Navarro opened their current season Sept. 29 in Schroeder Hall with three works of mostly arcane and rigorous music.

Not rare of course was Mozart’s G Major Trio, K. V. 564, that opened the program in a buoyant performance with Marilyn Thompson’s warm piano sound. The Schroeder house instrument is voiced with less brilliance than the two stage pianos in Weill Hall, and the music sounded clearly even in the allegro’s fast legato passages that at times were joyful dances.

In the andante violinist Victor Romasevich’s unsteady intonation quickly resolved with many ascending phrases of beauty in splendid ensemble. This work, possibly arranged by Mozart from a piano sonata, received a reading that stressed musical simplicity and light touches from all three instruments.

Frank Bridge’s early Phastasie Trio in C Minor is anything but initially charming, with a potent opening phrase that then moved through five movements of continual tempo and mood changes. The Navarro stressed the mixture of percussive effects with surging lyricism. Here and there references to Arensky and Rachmaninoff could be heard, but just snippets, and there was a splendid duo with Mr. Romasevitch’s high register and cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel’s rich bottom sound. There is much harmonic interest and the composer gives each instrument the same theme to announce over perhaps 15 measures.

Near the end the Navarro played a big repetition of the menacing opening theme in dramatic phrases, and pushed the music to the end, albeit with several deceptive cadences. The response from the audience of 50 was tepid.

Following intermission Georgy Catoire’s F Minor Trio concluded the afternoon, a piece the Navarro has played before and the mood was moved from quirky drama to saturated romanticism with a Russian flair, with bit of Tchaikovsky, but so different. The allegro moderato is a high temperature movement where the ensemble never lets up. Richer violin tone was needed here, but Ms. Brindel played well the themes that are attractive but not easily grasped.

Momentum continued in the allegretto fantastico that is harmonically foreign to contemporaries (Dvorák, St. Saëns, Ravel, Liadov, Reger), the high point for me being an elegant held note in the cello over Ms. Thompson’s wandering piano configurations. The playing in the finale (molto allegro) found the trio building abbreviated and extended climaxes, with flourishes in the piano part. It’s a difficult piece to pigeonhole, unique and strange where a touch of Schumann’s chordal progressions and Rachmaninoff’s temperament appear.

The Trio gave a committed performance of a work that is difficult to get ones arms (or ears) around. Applause was temperate. There was no encore.
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