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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
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.