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Chamber
SURPRISING IVES TRIO AND SONGS AT VMMF'S HANNA CENTER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 24, 2022
Chamber
SEMINAL SCHUBERT CYCLE PERFORMANCE FROM STEGALL-ZIVIAN AT VMMF
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, July 23, 2022
Opera
MARIN'S STRIPPED-DOWN OPERA CHARMS
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 17, 2022
Chamber
MOZART AND BRAHMS AN AUSPICIOUS COUPLE AT VMMF FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 17, 2022
Chamber
CLARINIST HOEPRICH'S VIRTUOSITY IN VMMF OPENING CONCERT
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, July 16, 2022
Recital
AGGRESSIVE PIANISM IN MYER'S MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 14, 2022
Opera
SONOROUS WAGNER GALA AND CAPACITY CROWD AT VALLEJO'S EMPRESS
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, July 9, 2022
Choral and Vocal
TRAVELING CHORISTERS SO CO DEBUT IN TWO BIG CANTATAS
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 25, 2022
Opera
VERDI'S THEATRICAL LA TRAVIATA TRIUMPHS AT CINNABAR
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Symphony
CLOUDS AND PASSION: MARIN SYMPHONY'S STELLAR CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, June 19, 2022
CHAMBER REVIEW
Valley of the Moon Music Festival / Thursday, June 24, 2021
Nikki Enfeld, soprano; Emily Marsh, contralto; Kyle Stegall, tenor; Edward Nelson, baritone; Allegra Chapman and Eric Zivian, piano

Tenor Kyle Stegall

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 Waltzes, Ops. 52 and 65, for vocal quartet and piano four-hands.

This delightful half-hour of pristine ensemble singing and playing was the perfect promotion for the upcoming Festival itself, which is entitled Love and Longing: Reaching Across the Distance. The Festival runs July 17 through August 1, and comprises both online zoom and in-person performances at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. After 15 months of live performance deprivation, this marks a joyous return for Festival participants and patrons alike.

An die ferne Geliebte (To the distant beloved, 1816) has the distinction of being the first song cycle as we know it, serving as the model for all of the great cycles of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and others that were to follow. For his text, Beethoven obtained a set of poems written by an acquaintance, a young Austrian doctor Alois Jeitteles. The poems describe the emotions and circumstances accompanying separation from one’s beloved, a theme presumably close to the composer's heart, and now even closer perhaps to this year's particular audience, for whom the last fifteen months of forced separation from loved ones has been a painfully odd and unfamiliar challenge. These six sparkling gems describing love's longing, joy and sadness in the context of being immersed in nature, and were brought to radiant life by the intensely romantic, thoughtful, masterful and sweet singing of tenor Kyle Stegall and the virtuosic playing of pianist (and Festival founder and director) Eric Zivian.

Although the Liebeslieder Waltzes (composed 1868- 1874) are now most familiar as literature standards for full chorus, the original intent was for them to be performed with four solo singers in quartet and four-hands piano, and they work gloriously this way. For his texts Brahms used folk songs and love poems from Georg Friedrich Daumer's collection entitled Polydora. These little songs also dwell on the difficulties of love, particularly when it is unrequited or frustrated by separation, a condition with which Brahms himself was well-acquainted.

Soprano Nikki Einfeld, contralto Emily Marvosh, tenor Kyle Stegall and bass Edward Nelson formed a robust, yet perfectly nuanced and balanced quartet, with beauty of voice and intonation, excellent German and strong intercommunication. Pianists Eric Zivian and Allegra Chapman provided a dazzling four-hand collaborative performance.
This abundance of gifts and skills made for an engrossing 30 minutes, and was the perfect teaser for the upcoming festival.

The proceedings were expertly recorded by Boby Borisov and filmed/edited by Mike Grittani, with satisfying acoustical tone and balance, lighting and atmosphere. And happily, all the festival recordings will be available to the audience for repeat listening until the end of 2021.