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Chamber
SPARKLING WIND, STRING, HARP MUSIC AT DEVON HOUSE GARDEN CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Take a mild autumn evening, a garden gazebo with patterned rugs and lit with soft bulbs, shake in a fine chamber ensemble, add a rising new moon, and you have a recipe for the musical delight that violist Elizabeth Prior presented Oct. 9 in her Devon House Garden Concert series. The Marin Terra Li
Recital
AUTHORITATIVE BEETHOVEN SONATA IN KLEIN'S OCCIDENTAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, October 8, 2021
People attending the first Redwood Arts Council Occidental concert in 20 months found a surprise – a luxurious new lobby attached to the Performing Arts Center. It was a welcome bonus to a recital given by pianist Andreas Klein where the music seemed almost as familiar as was the long shuttered hal
Symphony
MOVIE MUSIC ON THE WINDSOR GREEN IN SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 3, 2021
People approaching the Windsor Green bandstand Oct. 3 for the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s season opening concert had some cause for concern. After 18 months of silence would the all-volunteer orchestra have enough musicians for a big movie music program? After all, performers can move, retire, or
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY RETURNS IN TRIUMPH
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 3, 2021
It is often the case that a single piece or performer steals the show at a symphony concert, but at the Oct. 3 performance of the Santa Rosa Symphony, the show itself stole the show. The concert opened with a serene 1982 tone poem by Libby Larsen, followed by a masterful performance by soloist Julia
Symphony
TWO WIND SOLOISTS CHARM AT SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 26, 2021
The house of music has many rooms. That dusty adage was never truer than when Weill Hall Sept. 25 hosted a roaring New Orleans-style musical party, and less than a day later a mostly sedate Sonoma State University student orchestra performance. Before a crowd of 200 conductor Alexander Kahn led a
Other
CLEARY'S NEW ORLEANS BAND IGNITES PARTY FOR THE GREEN AT SSU
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 25, 2021
A dramatic and unique start to the new Green Music’s Center’ 2021-2022 season exploded in a “Party for the Green” Sept. 25, a New Orleans (NO) style commotion featuring Jon Cleary and his Absolute Monster Gentlemen band, inside and outside of Weill Hall. Beginning with a private gourmet dinner in t
GAULIST FLAVOR IN FINAL SF PIANO FESTIVAL CONCERT AT OLD FIRST
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Final summer music festival programs are often a mix of what has come before, with the theme and even a featured composer taking a last stage appearance, with a dramatic wrap up composition. San Francisco’s International Piano Festival defied the norm August 29 with an eclectic French-flavored prog
SPARE DUO PRECEDES MYSTEROUS DUO AT DEN BOER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, August 27, 2021
In a departure from usual summer festival fare Julia Den Boer played an August 27 virtual recital in the San Francisco Piano Festival’s 4.5 season with four works, all mostly quiet but all in separate ways insistently demanding of artist and listener. Throughout the 40 minutes there was nary a powe
HARMONIC COMPLEXITY IN PHILLIPS' ALL-GRIFFES RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, August 20, 2021
Charles Griffes’ piano music is similar to that of Busoni, Reger and even Poulenc, in that there is a sporadic flourish of interest with concerts and scholarly work, then a quick fade into another long period of obscurity. So, it was a delight to have an all-Griffes recital August 20 on the San F
Chamber
ONE PIANO, TWO PIANO, THREE PIANO, FORE
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Schroeder Hall was nearly full July 29 for the final pianoSonoma concert of their season, and presumably the draw and highlight for many of the 150 attending was Bach’s Concerto for Four Pianos. And that performance was probably going to be a North Bay premiere. However, it wasn’t the highl
CHAMBER REVIEW

SF Piano Trio Following Encore Jan. 19 in Occidental

BEETHOVEN FEATURED IN SF TRIO'S OCCIDENTAL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 19, 2020

Conventional repertoire in uncommonly good performances highlighted the San Francisco Piano Trio’s Jan. 19 concert in the Occidental Center for the Arts.

Haydn’s No. 44 Trio (Hob. XV:28) came from late in his long career, when he was in and out of London, and received a sparkling reading that featured pianist Jeffrey Sykes’ stylish scale playing and good ensemble throughout the three movements. It was the first time Classical Sonoma has heard the Center’s new piano, replacing a small instrument that had dead bass strings and inadequate power. The newer instrument had a “wet” tonal character that Mr. Sykes, with careful pedal, made the delight of the E Major Trio’s energy come brightly alive.

The long introduction to the Allegretto was played with steady rhythm, leading to many thematic repeats in the finale (Allegro) that was boisterous. Jean-Michel Fonteneau’s cello line acted mostly to support violinist Axel Strauss, who in turn seemed to accompany the fluent piano part. But that’s always present in Haydn’s piano trios, and the San Francisco gave the music life and charm.

Charm was mostly missing from the Brahms C Minor Trio, Op. 101, which is dark and dramatic. Mr. Strauss’ introductory remarks from the stage made a historical comparison between Brahms and Tchaikovsky’s music, and it’s true that at the time of this Trio’s composition (1887) many musicians found Brahms’s music heavy, dense and often ponderous. The San Francisco met the challenges head on, never letting the demanding Allegro energetico become slack, but also emphasizing several moments of lyricism in the movement.

Rhythmic subtlety highlighted the wonderful Andante, poignantly played and in contrast with the grim force of the finale. Here Mr. Strauss and Mr. Fonteneau traded short solos and finally the work’s surging themes, so vigorously presented, moved to a surprising triumph in C Major. A masterpiece splendidly played that demanded audience concentration.

Following intermission the great trio masterpiece of Beethoven’s later years, the B Flat, Op. 97 (“Archduke”), occupied the entire second half. Judicious tempos were adopted in a straightforward reading that had fine ensemble, far removed from the classic Cortot-Thibaud-Casals “Archduke” recording where individual virtuosity prevails. String intonation was everywhere good. The Andante with at least four variations, mostly in D Major, was captivatingly played and the majestic themes had strong projection from the musicians.

In the concluding Allegro moderato Mr. Sykes played many pungent sforzandos, pushing the momentum that never obscured the clarity of the cello and violin lines. It was joyous and convincing.

Responding to a standing ovation from the capacity audience the San Francisco selected an encore: the scherzo from the Op. 1, No. 1, E Flat Trio. It had a fast and frothy performance, a harbinger perhaps of a tsunami of brilliant Beethoven performances to come in 2020, the composer’s 250th birthday being Dec. 17.