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Opera
A PROVOCATIVE DON GIOVANNI AT MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 18, 2014
At each Mendocino Music Festival a key evening is given over to a staged opera in the big tent, and last year Rossini’s frothy “Il Signor Bruschino” was an audience hit but hardly comprehensive operatic fare. Times change. Mozart’s weighty opera Don Giovanni was given a propulsive but often confus...
Recital
UNHURRIED COMMAND IN MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Pianist Robert Schwartz opened Mendocino Music Festival’s piano series July 17 with a set of works in a recital made for keyboard connoisseurs. His success was doubly gratifying for the artist as he had played on the same stage at last year’s Festival, but had to cancel most of the recital due to il...
Symphony
A MUSIC OFFERING IN A SONIC MIXTURE
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Bach’s iconic D Minor Clavier Concerto was the centerpiece in the fourth day of Mendocino Music Festival events July 16 in the big tent concert hall, with San Francisco-based Stephen Prutsman the featured artist. Conducting a chamber orchestra of ten from a lidless piano, Mr. Prutsman took fast te...
Choral and Vocal
A CAPAPELLA FEVER AHH
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Choral singing, especially unaccompanied by piano or orchestra, seldom gets exposure at a summer music festival. So it was a surprise July 16 to find the Mendocino Music Festival featuring a full program of a capella singing in downtown Mendocino’s Preston Hall. Perhaps due to the local performers...
Symphony
DRAMATIC SUMMER MUSICAL FARE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Monday, July 14, 2014
Napa’s Festival Del Sole’s summer resident orchestra, Sphinx, made a dramatic Weill Hall appearance July 15 with three star performers and a curious mix of pungent repertoire. Violinist Pinchas Zuckerman received the biggest adulation from the audience, closing the first half playing Bruch’s G Mino...
Chamber
SUMMER SCHUBERT SUNSHINE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 27, 2014
Though not as well known as the formidable Trio Navarro, the Amaryllis Trio has had an increasing chamber music presence since 2012 with manifold Sonoma and Marin County concerts. Sebastopol’s St. Stephen's Church and the Numina Center for the Arts hosted them June 27 in a sparkling concert of four ...
Chamber
A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME BRASS CONCERT
by Philip Beard
Thursday, June 12, 2014
"I think I just died and went to heaven" is a stock phrase for times of unusual bliss. On June 12 at SSU's Green Music Center, I didn't in fact die, but the 2˝ hours spent listening to the National Brass Ensemble came as close to a brass player's heaven as I can imagine. The hall was all but sold o...
Opera
HILARIOUS "MARRIAGE OF FIGARO" AT CINNABAR
by Nicki Bell
Friday, May 30, 2014
The Cinnabar Theater mounted a delightful, madcap, rambunctious, completely charming, extremely funny, very classy production of Mozartʼs opera "The Marriage of Figaro" from May 30 to June 15. With the feel of a 1920s Upstairs/Downstairs farce, it was sung in English and easily understood. Tho...
Symphony
BENEFIT FOR CHILDREN, BOON FOR MUSIC LOVERS
by Steve Osborn
Thursday, May 22, 2014
For its postseason concert on May 22, the Santa Rosa Symphony--together with piano soloist Jeffrey Kahane and conductor Bruno Ferrandis--played for free. The money they would otherwise have earned will be used to benefit more than 20,000 children served by the Symphony's extensive outreach efforts, ...
Symphony
POWERFUL SHOSTAKOVICH WORKS CLOSE USO'S SEASON
by Earl Dixon
Sunday, May 18, 2014
The Ukiah Symphony Orchestra concluded its current season on the May 17 weekend with a focus on Shostakovich. The featured works in Mendocino College’s Center Theater were the second Piano Concerto in F major, Op. 102 and Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47. Pianist Aaron Ames played the concerto an...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Mill Valley Chamber Music Society / Sunday, March 25, 2012
Eroica Trio: Erika Nickrenz, piano; Susie Park, violin; Sara Sant'Ambrogio, cello

Eroica Piano Trio

EROICA PLAYS THREE TRIOS TO PACKED HOUSE IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT

by Elenor Barcsak
Sunday, March 25, 2012

To a packed house March 25 the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society presented their fourth season concert in the Mt. Tamalpais United Merthodist Church, and the Eroica Trio quickly established the "wow" factor in a program of Spanish, Russian and French music.

The opening Cassadó Trio, evoking a freshness in their demeanor that conveyed the music, from 1929, and its Iberian flavor. Pianist Erika Nickrenz’ technical proficiency sounded well in the large church space with even trills and able command of dynamics. Sara Sant'Ambrogio's lush cello line delivered the tango-like passages in the opening movement, balanced beautifully with the singing line from violinist Susie Park.

The playing in the second movement was more languid and projected a broader palette, and the pizzicato effects and rhythmic excitement from the cello were deft. The finale was playful in a dance mode, and foot tapping seemed to be infectious with the audience. There were glistening glissandos and clean scale passage playing from Ms. Nickrenz.

Spoken comments from Ms. Sant'Ambrogio announced the Shostakovich Second Piano Trio in E Minor, Op. 67, and the composition uses unique technical components and harmonics that require the fingers to create an eerie and ghostly sound. The second movement was not a typical playful scherzo, as this movement is impetuous with sarcastic undertones stealthy conveyed. The third movement is a Baroque passacaglia and Ms. Nickrenz displayed careful dynamic control and never covered her partners. The finale, with themes from Jewish tunes, saw the return of the passacaglia and was a highlight of the concert. Ending on a major chord, the work gave rise to hope.

Ravel's A Major Trio comprised the second half and was a refreshing glimpse into the Impressionistic world. The Eroica, now clad in royal red gowns, gave the impression of being considered classical music sovereigns. The instruments have long undulating melodic lines which were in constant balance, with lovely arpeggios. Each of the three movement are related thematically and in the elaborate finale Ms. Park's violin mimicked the rich vibrato from the cello and brought passion to this noble music. In the finale there were moments reminiscent of Debussy's "La Cathédrale Engloutie" (10th Prelude from his First book of Preludes) and a more moderate tempo than one might have wished for.

Following the Ravel there was a standing ovation and the demanded encore was a transcription for all three instruments by Ms. Sant'Ambrogio of the Saint-Saëns "Swan" from his 1886 Carnival of the Animals.