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Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Ft. Bragg Center For the Arts / Sunday, January 15, 2017
Carolyn Steinbuck, piano; Marcia Sloane, cello; Eric Kritz, clarinet

E. Kritz, C. Steinbuck and M. Sloane Bowing Before Preston Hall Audience

A MUSICAL ODYSSEY IN RIVITING PRESTON HALL RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 15, 2017

A standing room audience warmly greeted pianist Carolyn Steinbuck Jan. 15 in the season’s second Ft. Bragg Center For the Arts concert in Mendocino’s plebian Preston Hall.

Ms. Steinbuck, to be joined in the program’s second half by clarinetist Eric Kritz and cellist Marcia Sloane, programmed Schubert’s big B-Flat Major Sonata, D. 960. Schubert’s piano music is seemingly now on every recital program, but this is a recent development, and the first recording of a Schubert Sonata was as late as 1928. The pianist read extensive program notes and discussed the reasons for deciding to take the first movement repeat before beginning a 40-minute musical odyssey.

But the odyssey, although long, never dragged and underscored what pianists call the Schubert’s “heavenly length.” The tempos throughout the Sonata were judicious and never hurried, leaving room for many variations in the low bass trills and voice leading. The Hall’s resident piano was voiced warmly rather than brilliantly, and through the first two movements the playing was both dramatic and poetic. There were little artistic touches everywhere, including an arpeggiated chord before the Molto moderato’s concluding chords, and a beguiling and carefully shaped three-note repeated left-hand figures (played seco) in the Andante. The playing here was a highlight in the concert.

Ms. Steinbuck, a seminal figure in Mendocino County music for many years, pushed the tempo in the concluding Allegro but the music never got out of hand, and drew a raucous standing ovation. It was a workman performance that focused on the spirituality and often-delicate repose of the composer’s last and greatest Sonata.

Following a long intermission Mr. Kritz and Ms. Sloane joined the pianist for Muczynski’s Fantasy Trio, Op. 26, the work last heard locally with the Trio Navarro in 2015. The four-movement composition from 1971 received a reading that alternated aggressive rhythms and lyrical outbursts. It’s a free wheeling trio with constantly changing meter, and sporadically the clarinet line was lost in the sonic mix. Ms. Sloane played a long opening line in the Andante over pedal point in the piano, then Mr. Kritz performed a mournful theme over drone phrases from the cello. The music is not nostalgic, just sad, with a soft and haunting last cello and clarinet notes.

Strongly syncopated rhythmic playing and clipped phrases characterized the Allegro Deciso, the music jabbing with quick thrusts, and the Finale went from a bucolic beginning to a jaunty conclusion, with whiffs of sardonic Shostakovich. Ms. Sloane’s cello had the requisite low note growl.

Brahms’ late romanticism was on display in the concluding Clarinet Trio, Op. 114. Instrumental colors were foremost here with a wider cello vibrato and some pesky string pitch wavering in the high registers. Much of the lovely Adagio was question and response phrasing between Ms. Sloane and Ms. Kritz, with a subsidiary piano line. Mr. Kritz’s deft clarinet playing dominated the Andantino with phrasing of a tender dance.

A typical raucous Brahms Allegro ended the work with a perfect instrumental interplay of the many structural sequences of falling thirds. It was short, just under five minutes, but packed with energetic and at times virtuosic playing.

Another standing ovation brought this stellar Trio back for an encore, a droll and circus like piece (“Trickster”) by Ms. Sloane that not surprisingly featured her cello playing. It was spirited and a little spooky in a refined way, with a charming long decrescendo to a quiet finish.

Clearly Ms. Steinbuck’s Trio is a North Coast favorite and presented a performance that combined provocative programing, transparent ensemble and exemplary playing.