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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
Ukiah Symphony / Sunday, February 21, 2021
Beth Aiken, oboe and English horn; Tom Aiken, harpsichord

Tom Aiken and Beth Aiken

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 visuals were simple and concert dress was absent, but the six-foot Flemish single manual blue case harpsichord had a soundboard lavishly decorated with flower designs, and Ms. Aiken played both a conventional oboe and a baroque oboe, along with an English horn. Each of the composers in the 33-minute recital were mostly unknown to this reviewer, and each piece had announcements by the performers without attendant printed title information on the screen.

Beginning with Chris Lastovicka’s “Laska” the English horn sounded full in the small room, Ms. Aiken playing without score and with beguiling melancholy through the four minutes. Two works from Ross Edwards followed, one "Yanada" meaning moon in Australian Aboriginal language, the highlights being the long solo oboe line and high register upward scale passages, with several dark night visuals of animals and the moon. I think the animals were kangaroos. An odd juxtaposition of music and art.

Mr. Aiken performed a short solo by composer Edward Mclean, a fantasy-like first movement ("Brise") from his Sonata, and “Incantations.” A two-manual 18th Century German style instrument was used. The three-movement "Incantations" had fast second movement, though quite relaxed in tempo, and featured the Baroque oboe and a long plaintive introduction that reminded one of the haunting prelude to the third act of Wagner’s opera “Tristan and Isolde.”

Ms. Aiken played from score with lovely echo effects in combination with the harpsichord line. Instrumental balances in this work and throughout were excellent, and in the Andante finale’s lingering ending the feeling was peaceful with long-held oboe notes. According to the composer's comments, the solo oboe sections were based upon an interest in native American flute music.

The Aiken duo also performed Ennio Mariconne’s “Gabriel’s Oboe” from the 1986 British drama film “The Mission,” and here Ms. Aiken chose the Baroque instrument. Only three minutes in length, the performance was underscored by Mr. Aiken’s symmetrical chords and soft arpeggios.