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Chamber
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Valley of the Moon Music Festival / Saturday, January 27, 2018
Eric Vivian, piano; Tanya Tomkins, cello; Eric Hoeprich, clarinet; Catherine Manson, violin and viola

Eric Zivian and Eric Hoeprich Jan. 27 in Schroeder Hall (M. Moritz Photo)

VIVID GERMAN ROMANTICISM IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT IN SCHROEDER

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 27, 2018

Though not new to Sonoma County, the Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) concerts are relatively recent in the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall. So the first of three spring concerts Jan. 27 provided a picture of what’s in the repertoire leading up to their Festival this summer at Sonoma’s Hanna Center.

Cellist and VOM cofounder Tanya Tomkins opened the concert with remarks to the audience about 19th century musical romanticism as it centered on the world of Robert Schumann. The afternoon’s first music was Gade’s Op. 43 Fantasias for clarinet and piano, and the three short movements were “echt” German Schumann lyricism in a beguiling performance by clarinetist Eric Hoeprich and pianist Eric Zivian. Mr. Hoeprich alternated crisp scales in the allegro vivace with yearning lyricism. This lush music was beautifully played, and soared in the ballade-moderato.

Two Schuman works followed, the Op. 132 “Märchenerzählungen” from 1854, and the more popular “Fantasiestücke,” Op. 73. The First (Fairy Tales) has four movements and uses piano, clarinet and the viola of guest artist Catherine Manson. Ms. Manson has a pure sound but tended to underplay and was occasionally covered by the piano and wind lines. Highlights were the lovely clarinet-viola duets with fast broken chords in the opening Lebhaft nich zu Schnell and Mr. Zivian’s rhapsodic playing of octaves and strong chords in the Lebhaft, sehr markiert finale. An outpouring of delicious warmth!

Concluding the first half were the three Op. 73 pieces, each one featuring a cello, clarinet or viola. Lyricism was again at the fore with these richly hued pieces, played as throughout the concert from score. Mr. Hoeprich’s instrument had the greatest projection, and the performers deftly chased each other’s phrases. There were no extended ritards and tempos were brisk, especially in the Lebhaft, leicht.

During intermission Mr. Hoeprich spoke to the audience about the 1841 piano on stage, and it’s applicability to the colorful Schumann harmonies. The sound he described was accurate, albeit with an often-muddy bass register, but the instrument didn’t pair well with the Brahms C Major Trio (Op. 87) in the second half. By the 1880s when Brahms wrote the Op. 87 work overstrung iron frame instruments were standard in Europe, including Blüthner, Grotrian, Schröder, Becker and preeminently Bechstein. Missing in the four movements was bass register clarity and a singing top end, as well as tonal strength.

But there were felicities in the inspired reading of the allegro moderato with sonorous string chords and contrasts with the piano part. Ms. Tomkins and Ms. Manson often had a “q and a” combination, and the three chords ending the andante were sumptuous. The scherzo featured lots of unison string playing and elegant phrasing, with echoes of the composer’s 1889 D Minor Violin Sonata.

The finale had references to the themes of the first movement and moved from spiccato bow work to big trio climaxes. Brahms' last movements, unlike lesser trio composers of the time (Rubinstein, Bruch, Taneyev, Gade, Lalo), are as good as his first movements.

Applause from the 105 attending was strong, but no encore was offered.