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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
Devon House Garden Concerts / Saturday, October 9, 2021
Elizabeth Prior, viola; Joseph Edelberg, violin; Chloe Tula, harp, Jesse Barrett, oboe, Rebecca Roudman, cello; Stacey Pelinka, flute

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 Linda program featured violinist Joseph Edelberg; Jesse Barrett, oboe; flutist Stacey Pelinka; Rebecca Roudman, cello; Ms. Prior and guest artist harpist Chloe Tula. All but Ms. Tula are Santa Rosa Symphony members, and Ms. Prior is also a founding member of the Farallon Quintet. The 50 guests in the garden found comfortable seating on a variety of sofas and chairs.

The acoustics from the gazebo were surprisingly good, and a neighborhood chorale of chirping crickets swelled into hearing each time the music faded, enhancing the richness of the outdoor experience.

Pastorale, the first movement of Debussy’s intricate, polytonal Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp, opened the evening. The performance was melancholy and sweetly uplifting. In 1915 Debussy was vacationing in a Normandy coast cottage, where he experienced a burst of creativity, writing three seminal works for cello, violin, flute, viola and harp. This concert’s Sonata, at that time a unique alchemical marvel, was played elegantly and with gracious ensemble.

Next was Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Oboe Quartet from 2004, scored for oboe, viola, violin, and cello, a fortuitous discovery for Jesse Barrett, who had not known the work before Ms. Prior spotted the score at Marin’s Magic Flute music store, and presented it to him. He in turn suggested they perform it at her Devon House series. Rounded out by Ms. Roudman’s resonant cello and Mr. Edelberg’s assertive violin, the quartet’s two movements balanced musical abstraction with expressiveness. As performed, it was an exuberant exploration of sound, juxtaposing quiet, suspended moments with dynamic rhythms, pairing string tremolos with the oboe’s mournful singing, and layering unison pizzicato with drawn-out melodies. It was a scintillating performance and the audience showed its appreciation with sustained applause.

In remarks to the audience Ms. Pelinka explained that Mozart wrote his Quartet for Flute, Violin, Viola and Cello in D Major, K. 285, in 1777, but before he had a full appreciation of the flute as an instrument. “You can hear parts of his operas [here],” she said, adding that “in this quartet, the violin line gets to be the bird, rather than the flute.” It was heavenly, joyfully flowing music. There are three movements: a jubilant Allegro, a haunting Adagio and a spritely Rondo, the last launched into without pause. Ms. Roudman’s and Ms. Pelinka’s playing was particularly virtuosic in the third movement, as their instruments often sang together while the viola and violin provided sympathetic harmonies in pizzicato.

Ms. Tula was the soloist for Carlos Salzedo’s Ballade for Harp, Op. 28 (1914). Salzedo was a French harpist, composer and conductor, and perhaps the most eminent harp composer in the 20th century. The Ballade showcases the instrument’s versatility and Ms. Tula’s command of the complicated score. It’s rare to hear classical solo harp and the arc of the piece was not immediately discernable. Rather, on first hearing it produced many special moments: arpeggios, strumming, glissandos, bisbigliando, subtle harmonics, plucking. Altogether it was a thrilling cascade of intricate and layered sound, and at times the surprise was that only two hands and two feet (to play the seven pedals) were involved in the performance.

The festive evening concluded with Mozart’s Quartet in F major, K. 370/368b, scored for oboe, violin, viola and bass violin or cello. Mozart had recently heard virtuoso oboist Friedrich Ramm, and as Mr. Barrett explained in introductory remarks, Ramm “played higher and faster than anyone else.” This opened possibilities to the composer, and he composed the music for Ramm to show the oboist’s virtuosity and the improvements that had been made to the oboe at that time.

The quartet includes a "high F" above the staff, a note rarely played before, and lots of rapid-fire passages which Mr. Barrett handled with finesse. The judicious tempo was such that every passage had clear articulation and distinct shape. After hearty applause, the audience joined the musicians for conversation and enjoyed the Devon House’s generous offerings of snacks, Perrier, and wine.