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Chamber
STYLISH HAYDN QUARTETS CLOSE GREEN ROOM SERIES
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Completing the Green Music Center’s spring series series of “Green Room” virtual concerts, the St. Lawrence String Quartet played May 9 a lightweight program of two Haydn works. Lightweight perhaps, but in every way satisfying. The G Major Quartet (Op. 76, No.1) began the music that was supplement...
Recital
ECLECTIC PIANISM IN SPRING LAKE VILLAGE VIRTUAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
During the pandemic The Santa Rosa Symphony’s virtual concerts received their due in performance praise, but another series, Spring Lake Village, more quietly presented monthly virtual concerts to a select local audience. May 5 saw the latest event, produced by impresario Robert Hayden, and feature...
Symphony
SONIC CONTRASTS HIGHLIGHT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SPRING PROGRAM
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 25, 2021
In a curious mixture of compositions, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s penultimate virtual concert of the season April 25 unfolded in ways both highly satisfying and a bit perplexing. Directed by resident Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong, the event followed a familiar format – several contemporary wor...
Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Piano Sonoma / Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Emi Ferguson, flute; Peter Dugan and Angie Zhang, piano; Down Na, violin; Julia Glenn, violin and viola; Michael Dahlberg, cello;

Flutist Emi Ferguson at Piano Sonoma Festival

YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT

by
Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in-residence program attracting young musicians from leading music schools.

The evening began with playing of a section of Bach’s Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), Nos. 16-24 and Aria, arranged for strings. A portion of the entire set was featured at each of the four concerts, this time with pianist Angie Zhang, flautist Emi Ferguson, violinist Doori Na, violist Julia Glenn and cellist Michael Dahlberg. From the grand 16th variation “Ouverture” with its pomp and circumstance through the lilting 24th variation “Canone All’ Ottava,” the ensemble playing was strikingly good. These are polished young musicians already equipped with the interpretive skills of seasoned players. It served as a great start to what was a spectacular evening of music making.

Pianist Peter Dugan then offered Beethoven’s Bagatelles, Opus 126, and he is an artist with great expressive skills and has that special performance gene that allows him to communicate directly with an audience. His animated playing was infectious and yet he did it without any of the tawdry pianistic stage gestures one often sees. These are quiet pieces filled with emotion and Mr. Dugan could not have played them any better.

Next came the duo of Ms. Na and Ms. Zhang in a moving exposition of Mozart’s E Minor Piano and Violin Sonata, K. 304. These two seemed to be musical soul mates, as the instruments blended together to create a glorious result in this short work (under 14 minutes) that was written in 1778. For such youthful artists to play at this level was a joy to hear and see. Ms. Zhang was particularly sensitive in her playing and exhibited a thorough understanding of the sonata and its challenges. Mr. Na followed suit with elegant playing in the often somber second movement, in a tasteful partnership with Ms. Zhang. The enthusiastic audience expressed its approval.

The program closed with Haydn’s Piano Trio in G Major, Hob. XV:15, featuring Ms. Ferguson, Mr. Dahlberg and Mr. Dugan. In pre-performance remarks it was stated that Haydn loved to laugh, and the audience was asked to see if they heard any musical jokes, so to speak, in the score. The 20-minute piece from 1790 is certainly light-hearted and frothy in parts, and yet what the ensemble playing revealed was the rich harmonic contours of the score, especially during the andante movement. One literally had to restrain oneself from humming along. Ms. Ferguson’s sprightly flute virtuosity conveyed the emotional content of each movement beautifully. The piano line never dominated the performance and the three musicians had excellent ensemble.

It’s clear that the Piano Sonoma program has attracted serious artists in a Festival of charming music making.