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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

Manhattan Piano Trio Oct. 13 at Gualala Arts Concert (Judy McNeill photo)

POTENT MANHATTAN TRIO PERFORMANCES AT GUALALA ARTS CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 13, 2019

Gualala Arts has been North Coast gem since 1980s, presenting a wide menu of musical programs in the charming small concert hall in the redwoods near the ocean in Gualala, and the Manhattan Piano Trio opened the new season Oct. 13. It was the fifth appearance in Gualala for this New York-based ensemble, with pianist founder pianist Milana Strezeva joined by Trio newcomers Solomiya Ivakhiv (violin) and cellist Sophie Shao.

Haydn’s G Major Trio (Hob. XV/25) opened the concert before an audience of 200 area residents, with Ms. Ivakhiv (standing throughout) leading an interpretation that was direct and often driven in the sprightly opening andante. The hall’s acoustics are almost without reverberation, but the sound is direct and “Papa” Haydn’s compositional charm was everywhere evident. Phrasing in the first two movements was conventional and favored a rich string sound, finishing with a long fermata in the songful adagio.

Things changed in the swirling finale, a rondo with many thematic repeats in a gypsy style (Hungarian? Balkan?) that featured Ms. Strezeva’s driving pianism that although forceful never covered her companion’s sound. It was integrated and balanced playing, jocular but everywhere convincing, and received loud applause.

Schumann’s Five Pieces in Folk Style, Op. 102, followed, spotlighting Ms. Shao’s rich cello virtuosity. Contrasts in the music were emphasized, with perhaps the highlight being the alternating lyrical and then somber effects in the Langsam that resembled a lullaby, with three vivid chords at the end, two of them in arpeggios. Fine instrumental balance continued through the third and fourth movements, the Nicht Schnell slightly strident with several key modulations, and the concluding Stark und Markiert in strict tempo and Ms. Shao’s lovely resonant playing and deft bow control. The hall’s piano is voiced warmly and Ms. Strezeva’s tone color in soft passages was splendid.

The afternoon’s surprise came with Galician composer Anatol Kos-Anatolsky’s Poeme for Violin and Piano, probably in its North Coast premiere. In remarks from the stage Ms. Ivakhiv mentioned that the piece was just recently discovered, though composed long before the composer’s death in 1983. Ms. Strezeva played the pungent introduction with muscular drama, leading into episodic sections that were colorfully tonal and full of high register violin writing and extended pianissimos between phrases.

In the cadenza the violinist favored much tempo fluctuation and potent sforzandos that evolved into a tumultuous folk dance at presto speed, the two instruments often many registers apart but with palpable excitement. The light humorous ending was a surprise.

After a long intermission with gratis refreshments Dvorák’s great Dumky Trio in E Minor, Op. 90, received a committed and convincing reading. The Manhattan seemed to revel in the quirky and complex six-movement piece, with virtuosity everywhere: strong thematic projection, pungent but sporadically dry tone from Ms. Ivakhiv, Ms. Shao’s drone cello line under raucous Czech dance rhythms and lovely unison playing from the two strings. Beginning with the mystery of the first 60 measures, amazing passionate and laconic contrasts unfold in this unique work from 1891, so different from contemporary composers (Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein, St. Saëns, Reger, Arensky) that were writing in more established trio formats. The first three movements were played without pause.

Ensemble was solid throughout; even in places were the tempo sharply accelerated or when thematic fragments from each instrument could have blurred the music. They never did. In this work Dvorák can’t let go of expected section endings, and here the Manhattan brought innovative moods and excitement to each extended cadenza and each short violin and piano section, sometimes in tremolo and ostinato. The playing was instrumentally surefooted and artistically distinguished, and at 34 minutes it never seemed at all long.

This elegant and thrilling Dumky performance generated a standing ovation, but no encore was offered.







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