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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
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PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT FEATURES GORGEOUS VOCALISM
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Thursday, July 29, 2021
The 2021 Valley of the Moon Music Festival continued on July 29 with a sumptuous online offering of French songs, concluding with the second piano quartet by Fauré, Op. 45. Such a beautiful bouquet of video performances wonderfully filmed and recorded softened the disappointment of not being able to
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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
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BOGAS' TENURE ENDS IN OUTDOOR GUALALA CHAMBER CONCERT
by Iris Lorenzfife
Sunday, July 25, 2021
The preconcert call that music lovers should gather at Gualala Arts July 25 to attend the final Roy Bogas and Friends Concert was not quite as dire as it sounded. It seems that a year of Covid 19 and an 88th birthday had combined to convince Mr. Bogas that he was working too hard. But with cellist P
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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 “
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RARE LANG SONGS SPARKLE AT VOM FESTIVAL VIDEO RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Unexpected pleasures are often the best. Valley of the Moon Chamber Festival presented a such a pleasure last week-a July 21 recorded performance by tenor Kyle Stegall and pianist Eric Zivian in another mini-recital (very mini-just 15 minutes!) of six songs by the nineteenth century German composer
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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 REVIEW
Redwood Arts Council / Sunday, March 28, 2021
Tanya Tomkins, cello; Eric Zivian, piano

Eric Vivian and Tanya Tomkins

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 Berkeley studio, the fourth RAC event of the season.

As usual the musical mix was intriguing. Over the recent Beethoven anniversary year Mr. Zivian essayed the 32 Beethoven Sonatas using pianos of the composer’s period, and in this recital he chose the popular D Minor work from Op. 31 (“Tempest”) and caught the mystery in the opening Largo-Allegro’s recitatives. Playing from score and with feet in socks, the pianist made the most of the limited dynamic contrasts available in this fortepiano, albeit aided by amplification.

Tempos throughout were judicious with occasional rolled left-hand chords adding interest, juxtaposed with the piano’s inherent lack of sustain in the many arpeggios. Scale playing was clean in the final Allegretto and the forte descending passage a few bars before the end was played with sprightly two hands rather than in single-hand octaves. A nice touch.

Ms. Tomkins introduced and played a six-minute Offenbach work, Les Larmes de Jacqueline (Jacqueline’s tears), Op. 76, No. 2, with Mr. Zivian. It’s almost always played with orchestra, and here the cellist drew long phrase endings from her instrument, tasteful vibrato and underscored the many modulations. This piece richly wanders about with at times schmaltzy yearning and elegant low register music for the cello. Perhaps this was a North Coast premiere performance?

Mr. Zivian played an 1841 piano (Rausch, made in Odessa) for this work and the following Rubinstein Melodie, Op. 3, No. 1, in the cellist David Popper’s transcription. In the spoken introduction Ms. Tomkins mentioned the cello had two gut strings, and Mr. Zivian clarified that the composer of the Melodie was not the Polish pianist Artur Rubinstein, who did not compose. It’s understandable that this identification is often made, but also sad as Artur was but an important 20th Century pianist, and Anton was the second greatest pianist in history. Most people today would not recognize the once popular Melodie, or even McDowell’s To A Wild Rose. Times have changed. The middle section transition was all Popper, and Ms. Tomkins closed with lovely ascending phrase with a double stop.

Concluding was Beethoven’s D Major Sonata from 1815, Op. 102, No. 2, and Mr. Zivian returned to his 1798 instrument. This quirky work was played that way in the opening Allegro con Brio with many tempo changes and explosive phrasing. Playing from score, Ms. Tomkins playing in the Adagio brought a deep sadness to the slow march, morphing into lyrical sections that were characterized by “luftpause” cessations. The piano line everywhere blended well with the cello.

A complex fugue unfolded in the finale (Allegro), the playful counterpoint impressive where the major interest is mostly with the cello. The ending was stylish, tying up a movement of contrasts so different from the preceding C Major and A Major Beethoven Sonatas. There were charming bits of humor from the playing of both instruments in the final movement.

During the video there were numerous visual dropouts and still frames, but the audio was clear and without distortion. Series producer Sonia Tubridy led a Q and A with the artists following the Sonata.