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SOLO BRILLIANCE IN SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 17, 2024
Opera
OPERA GEMS IN COZY SEBASTOPOL THEATER
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Choral and Vocal
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by Pamela Hicks Gailey
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Symphony
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Chamber
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by Abby Wasserman
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Chamber
VIRTUOSIC HARP RECITAL AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE SERIES
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, January 24, 2024
Chamber
EMOTIONAL BLOCH PIECE HIGHLIGHTS PELED'S RAC RECITAL
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Chamber
OYSTER TRIO AT THE ROSE SIGNATURE SERIES
by Terry McNeill
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Chamber
CANTABILE CHARMS IN MIXED 222 GALLERY CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 13, 2024
Choral and Vocal
A GRAND DIVA'S SHIMMERING AND PROVOCATIVE RECITAL IN WEILL HALL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Thursday, January 11, 2024
CHAMBER REVIEW
Valley of the Moon Music Festival / Sunday, July 17, 2022
Eric Zivian, piano; Kyle Stegall, tenor; Lisa Lee, violin; Eric Hoeprich, clarinet

S. Van Embden E. Zivian E. Hoeprich

MOZART AND BRAHMS AN AUSPICIOUS COUPLE AT VMMF FESTIVAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 17, 2022

Is there such a thing as summer music? Something lighter than heard in the winter season, with much informality? The Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival specializes in this approach, and July 17 presented a concert in Sonoma Valley’s Hanna Center that even produced lightweight Brahms.

Before 90 people in the Hanna Center’s Hall came first Mozart’s popular E-Flat Major Trio, K. 498 (“Kegelstatt”) with exemplary clarinetist Eric Hoeprich, violist Seth Van Embden and the Festival’s codirector Eric Zivian playing a inlaid case fortepiano c. 1800. The contrast between the luscious clarinet sound and the viola line was pronounced, all to Mr. Hoeprich’s favor as Mr. Van Embden could always be seen but not often heard.

There was never a real Forte from the piano during the entire work, though many chaste figurations came from Mr. Zivian’s consummate control of his instrument with legato right hand scales. Mr. Hoeprich’s dynamic control was exemplary, and the Menuetto had a slight menacing air with short animated phrases going back and forth with the viola part. Wonderful Mozart with a Rondo finale that was continuously singing.

Moving from the fortepiano to an 1895 Chickering from the UC Berkeley’s collections, Mr. Zivian performed three Brahms songs with Festival stalwart tenor Kyle Stegall. It was captivating Brahms, the most familiar being the Regenlied of Op. 59, No. 3. Mr. Stegall’s supple but often forceful voice journeyed through the eight stanzas with palpable emotion, and his held notes leading to short pauses were convincing. O kühler Wald (Op. 72, No. 3) and Nachklang from Op. 59 were the other lieder, both sung with accurate German and intonation.

Completing the program was the Brahms G Major Sonata, Op. 78, performed by Mr. Zivian using the Chickering, and violinist Lisa Lee. Tempos were judicious in the opening Vivace where Ms. Lee, playing from score, had intonation difficulties. The violinist chose an intimate style throughout, seemingly suited to summer music but eschewing adequate projection of the composer’s majestic themes. The pizzicato at the beginning of the development was effectively played. At the final bars of the first movement the piano line descends to a potent bass rumble, and the violin in the top register needs to soar, but here it never did.

Ms. Lee’s sound was best in the viola-like lower registers of her instrument where she and Mr. Zivian exchanged motives. Though one should concentrate on just the produced sound, and not the performer’s movements, Mr. Zivian loved to stress off-beat agogics in concert with wide body swaying, including twice bringing his head nearly horizontal with the piano’s keyboard. Inner voices in the concluding Allegro from the pianist were beneficial and frequently unique. He was having a good time.

Instrumental balances in the Sonata were good. No encore was offered, and a gratis reception welcomed the audience on the Hall’s patio.