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Chamber
THE LINCOLN RETURNS WITH CLARKE'S PUNGENT TRIO
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, November 18, 2021
There were many familiar faces Nov. 18 during Music at Oakmont’s initial concert of the season, but perhaps the most necessary were the three musicians of the Lincoln Piano Trio, the Chicago-based group that has performed often in Oakmont since 2006. A smaller than unusual audience in Berger Audito
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
CHAMBER REVIEW
Mill Valley Chamber Music Society / Sunday, November 14, 2021
Manhattan Chamber Players. Adam Golkas, piano; Emily Doggett Smith, violin; Luke Fleming. viola; Andrea Casarrubios, cello; Nicholas Cathcart, double bass

Manhattan Chamber Players

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. 667 (the “Trout,” 1819) one of the most frequently performed works in the chamber repertoire.

This is the 49th season of the Society, and after the enforced hiatus due to the pandemic, outgoing president Bill Horne and incoming president Jane Rogers took the stage in front of the capacity Mt. Tamalpais Church audience to be honored.

Violist Luke Fleming, the Players’ founder, introduced the Vaughn-Williams, and the rest of the quintet then settled in for the lush and dramatic first movement (Allegro con fuoco) with slicing, roiling cascades of sound that evolved sweetly into a chorale underscored by double bass pizzicato. In this quintet, as with the Schubert and very few other piano quintets, the double bass replaces the second violin, creating a subtle earthy grounding to the harmonies.

Pianist Adam Golka elicited rich instrumental sonorities with thrilling runs and ringing arpeggios, and the strings’ sounds rose, blended and fell back, their individuality clearly audible. The musicians played with admirable ensemble clarity and with balance. Mr. Fleming’s viola line combined with the double bass (Nicholas Cathcart), and Andrea Casarrubios’ elegant cello playing and Emily Daggett Smith’s soaring violin added lyrical flights and ominous undercurrents to this passionate, poetical work. The first movement ended on a hushed unison note, a reverent stillness, out of which the tender Andante movement emerged with chorale-like sequences, the strings at times sounding a benediction.

The Fantasia third movement blossomed with motifs and echoes from the strings and piano, then a transparent canon that grew in complexity, with staccato passages and insistent repeated notes morphing into elegant legato, and a sudden turbulence with percussive chords restlessly ascending and falling until, with a palpable weariness, the music hesitated and slowed. Then, toward the conclusion of the work, the pace quickened and slowed, like a storm that breaks and then passes over. The quintet ended tranquilly and the audience responded with enthusiasm, many standing to applaud.

Schubert composed the beloved “Trout” when he was only 22, but it was not performed publicly until after his death at 32; the reason for this delay is not known. But like Hummel before him and Vaughn-Williams after him, he substituted the double bass for second violin. Mr. Fleming introduced the quintet as “one of the brilliant pillars of chamber repertoire,” and in a charming and unexpected treat, Ms. Smith and Mr. Golka joined together to play the Schubert song on which it is based - The Trout (Die Forelle), taking us right to the source.

Die Forelle is the basis for the quintet’s theme and its fourth movement variations. It tells the story of a fisherman hooking a lively trout and an onlooker’s distress at seeing the struggling fish, but is also thought be a warning to girls to watch out for young men who would “catch” them. The evocation in the music is of a shining stream with the flashing silver scales of a fighting fish and the sadness that something so beautiful must lose its life.

There are five movements. The first, Allegro vivace, in sonata form, was performed alternately gaily and introspectively; the following Andante, as a lullaby with dark, lovely harmonies from the strings. When the piano line jumped into the midst of those harmonies, it was like a fish leaping out of a cascading stream. The third movement, in three-quarter time (Scherzo: Presto), is also full of brave leaps and lunges, the vigor of life asserting itself, undercut by a plaintive melody from the double bass. The fourth movement, the six variations on Schubert’s song, Andantino, showed off each musician’s skill in various combinations, and all shone forth in turn. Only once, in a particularly exciting passage on the piano, did Mr. Golka briefly drown out the strings, and there it might have been to express the fisherman’s triumph.

The Allegro Giusto final movement brought the quintet to a buoyant pitch, creating a peasant dance effect with trade-offs by strings and piano and a thrilling rhythmic pulse. This so-familiar work had been given fresh and vivid life, and the appreciative audience rose as one, giving the musicians a standing ovation. No encore was offered, but none was necessary, and many in the audience said they were ecstatic to be back with live music.