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Symphony
NOSTALGIC BARBER KNOXVILLE AT SO CO PHIL JACKSON THEATER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
In their first Jackson Theater appearance of the new season the Sonoma County Philharmonic presented Nov. 14 a program devoid of novelty, but showcasing the “People’s Orchestra” in splendid performance condition after a long COVID-related layoff. Conductor Norman Gamboa drew a committed and boister
Chamber
THRILLING PIANO QUINTETS IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 14, 2021
The Mill Valley Chamber Music Society sprang back to life on November 14 when a stellar ensemble from the Manhattan Chamber Players, a New York-based collective, arrived to perform two piano quintets: Vaughn-Williams’ in C Minor (1903), little known and rarely performed; and Schubert’s in A Major D.
Chamber
MUSCULAR BRAHMS FROM IVES COLLECTIVE IN GLASER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Leaving SRJC’s Newman Auditorium for the first time in decades, the College’s Chamber Concert Series presented a season-opening concert Nov. 14 in Santa Rosa’s Glaser Center with the four-musician Bay-Area based Ives Collective. The season, the first given since 2020, is dedicated to Series Founder
Symphony
MONUMENTAL BRAHMS SYMPHONY HIGHLIGHTS MARIN SYMPHONY RETURN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 7, 2021
In the waning COVID pandemic the Marin Symphony is one of the last Bay Area orchestras to return to the stage, and they did with considerable fanfare Nov. 7 before 1,200 in Civic Center Auditorium, with resident conductor Alasdair Neale leading a demanding concert of Brahms, Schumann and New York-ba
Symphony
APOLLO'S FIRE LIGHTS UP VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Long ago the Canadian violin virtuoso Gil Shaham played a program in Weill Hall of solo Bach, with a visual backdrop of slowly developing visuals, such as a pokey flower opening over four minutes. The Bach was sensational, and some in the audience liked the photos but many found them disconcerting,
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
CHAMBER REVIEW
Valley of the Moon Music Festival / Saturday, July 24, 2021
Rachel Ellen Wong, violin; Tanya Tomkins, cello; Eric Zivian, piano

Violinist Rachell Ellen Wong

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 “Friendship,” the concert began with two short pieces that passed without much notice – Louise Farrenc’s Impromptu and Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Adagio. Eric Zivian played the piano in each, with violinist Rachell Ellen Wong joining for the Adagio. Farrenc’s music, recently played by Marin’s ECHO Orchestra, is predictable early romantic writing of little interest. Hensel’s work is occasionally heard with viola, and moves along for under four minutes with some charm, Ms. Wong’s lyrical treble notes were strong with quick ascending and ascending scale passages from Mr. Zivian.

Clara Schumann’s G Minor Trio, Op.17, was the concert’s center and substance. It’s not her strongest composition, but has lovely melodies and throughout the pianist supplied thoughtful bass line support to cellist Tanya Tomkins and Ms. Wong. The composer here gives much prominence to the cello, long before Dvorák and Brahms did, and criticism of the piece usually centers on it being derivative. And it is, and in the long first movement one hears Weber and Robert Schumann’s music, again with thematic declarations by Mr. Zivian. So what, derivative can be splendid. The “wooden” hammer sound and minimal sustain and volume from the c. 1840 piano is an acquired taste, to me mostly okay but often barely so in Romantic era music.

Ms. Tomkins' playing in the Andante was a rich melting cello line, and the duos with Ms. Wong were captivating.

Commentators often cite Haydn and Schubert influences, but I hear none, especially in the pungent Allegretto that concludes the 1847 work. It was animated playing, fresh modulations bringing on forceful phrasing and fervent ensemble that had clarity, especially in the fugal section that returned once with violence.

Responding to warm applause, the trio was joined by violist Andrew Gonzales for an encore – Robert Schumann’s slow Andante Cantabile movement from his E Flat Quartet, Op. 47. The playing was bathed in luxurious romanticism, the slow phrases blending into a colorful tapestry of sultry sound, and Ms. Tomkins’ cello artistry was elegant.