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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
Green Music Center / Sunday, May 9, 2021
St. Lawrence String Quartet. Geoff Nuttall and Owen Dalby, violin; Lesley Robertson, viola; Christopher Costanza, cello

St. Lawrence String Quartet

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 supplemented with interviews and commentary with GMC Executive Director Jacob Yarrow. A brisk tempo characterized the opening movement, with uncommon seating placing violist Lesley Robertson far right of the socially distanced masked foursome filmed in Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall.

Violinist Geoff Nuttall had a stylized approach to this lovely composition, with energetic movement of his legs complimenting his thematic projection. Attacks and releases throughout were precise, and the ending of the Adagio was played with a soft elegance. The Menuetto was rightly played as a Scherzo with light spiccato bowing and handsome ascending note phrasing.

The finale (Allegro ma non troppo) is mostly in G Minor, and received a lively reading with fast scale playing, short motifs and clear counterpoint. The big repeat was played softly with subtle duos from Mr. Nuttall and violinist Owen Dalby. A splendid performance of one of Haydn’s last quartets he composed as a set.

Interviews in the intermission revealed erudite commentary from each St. Lawrence member, with cellist Christopher Costanza (ZOOM from his home, as were each musician) speaking of how the composer deliciously treats the cantabile cello line in the C Major Quartet of Op. 20. All four movements in this work from 1772 are marvelous and received terrific playing, especially in the slow movement that starts in unison, always a little tricky to synchronize. The second movement featured Mr. Nuttall’s lyrical solo playing.

A fugue was heard in the finale, played by the St. Lawrence sotte voce nearly all the way through, but near the end suddenly erupting in volume. Here the momentum was palpable, the two violins lines often playing to the cello/viola lines with lots of descending scale passages. This seminal work clearly is special to the St. Lawrence, as it gives more attention to the cello and viola parts than in previous quartet writing that can be overly first-violin-centric.

The video concluded with an arrangement, written for the St. Lawrence, of Golijov’s traditional Yiddish song “Arum Den Fayer.” In four and one-half minutes there was a variety of music that had depth and at times a shimmering Czardas character. The Quartet members announced that it was a recent work with a connection to COVID 19, and the video was shot in a Stanford classroom. The slow section was especially convincing with Ms. Robertson’s wide vibrato playing and everywhere a noble and subtle instrumental intensity.

Daniel Greenhouse contributed to this review.