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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
Devon House Garden Concerts / Thursday, October 22, 2020
Barbara Riccardi and Maki Ishii Sowash, violin; Vicki Ehrlich, cello; Paul Ehrlich, viola

Violist Paul Ehrlich

EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020

Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks.

Four San Francisco Opera Orchestra string players presented two splendid quartets Oct. 22 in the garden of Marin virtuoso violist Elizabeth Prior. Ms. Prior made the introductions to 20 attendees and the sunny afternoon began with Haydn’s D Major Quartet from his Op. 20 “Sun” series of six works.

This wonderful piece from 1772 received a cogent reading, the attacks and releases exact and the phrase interplay demonstrating the performer’s mutual stylistic familiarity. First violinist Barbara Riccardi played sparkling cascades of notes in the opening Allegro with the players emphasizing Haydn’s adventuresome harmonies. The long following Adagio affettuoso had Vicki Ehrlich playing in the cello’s high register, while violist Paul Ehrlich was in the bass. Ms. Ehrlich's cello sonority, though she was situated no closer to listeners than the other three instrumentalists, often carried above them.

The final two movements were performed in lighter weight, the first in a gypsy character and the last quite fast and sprinkled with the composer’s fastidious humor and contrasts in volume. A perfect beginning to the afternoon.

Beethoven’s Adagio from his E-Flat Major Quartet, Op. 127, was a late program addition, and was played through its five free variations in a rich tapestry of mostly somber but lyrical sound. Occasional bits of warmth shone through in this lofty music, played with sentiment but never with sentimentality.

Violinist Maki Ishii changed chairs with Ms. Riccardi for the final work, Mendelssohn’s last Quartet in F Minor. Op. 80. It’s an impassioned composition in four movements with driving rhythms and occasional musical anger. Here the Opera musicians gave an aggressive reading with sustained long-held notes, spiccato bowing, dissonances in the second movement Allegro assai, and only a short respite in the elegiac Adagio. Ms. Ehrlich and Ms. Ishii played the themes expressively, akin to the composer’s Songs Without Words for piano.

In the finale (Allegro) the Quartet kept tight control of the drama, including loud outbursts of sound and seeming emotional anxiety without relief.

One encore came, clearly familiar to string musicians in the SF Opera, Offenbach’s iconic Barcarolle from his 1881 Opera The Tales of Hoffmann. The playing was in every way “Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour,” with ample pizzicato and Mr. Ehrlich’s poetic statement of the famous theme.