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Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Green Music Center / Sunday, April 08, 2018
Victor Romasevich, violin; Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello; Marilyn Thompson, piano

Trio Navarro April 8 in the Green Music Center's Schroeder Hall

TRIO NAVARRO'S POPULAR FARE IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 08, 2018

Long time Classical Sonoma readers may recall many Trio Navarro concert reviews that lauded their virtuosity and interest in rarely played repertoire. The April 8 concert in Schroeder Hall before 85 chamber music fans featured sterling performances but had a mostly conservative menu of popular trios. Well, with three masterpieces in the trio literature, one can’t quibble.

Rachmaninoff’s early G Minor Trio (“Elégiac”) that began the second half was the only work could be said to be uncommon, and the Navarro managed to convey the hothouse but at times lugubrious harmonies in an intense 13-minute span. Similar in many ways to the composer’s 1901 Cello Sonata in the same key, the playing of the Elégiac began with a shimmering non-stopped string sound from violinist Victor Romasevich and cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel. Pianist Marilyn Thompson played the big mid-piece solo forcefully, and it’s a noble theme with lots of notes, all of them good notes. Tempos were generally judicious.

Mendelssohn’s wonderful D Minor Trio, Op. 49, closed the program, and it’s arguably the most performed classical piano trio, and fits the Navarro like an old slipper. As Ms. Brindel set out the noble first theme I thought of how many times she must have played the same notes as a student, in rehearsals and in concerts. One thousand times? Five thousand? In the molto allegro Mr. Romasevich varied his phrasing in repeats, the ensemble was balanced and the D minor key potently presented. String vibrato was deft, limited at times, and wide at times.

In the lovely andante and elfin spritzy scherzo the performance was fluid, especially in the richly poetic andante where the wistful piano line leads into music refined and grateful for each of the instruments. Nothing sounded affected or outsized. The finale (allegro assai) was also impeccably fluid, but I kept listening for more piquant inner voices, as for example in interpretations where on page 41 the performer plays an ascending piano line in triplets with two jolting dissonance chords. Dissonance in Mendelssohn? Rarely from the elegant Navarro in this music, or at least not in this concert.

In a slight programming twist, the afternoon’s major work, Schubert’s B Flat Trio, D. 898, occupied the entire first half. It’s a long work, lyrical and then dramatic at turns, and the opening allegro moderato had a beautiful second theme statement by Ms. Brindel, quickly taken over by Mr. Romasevich. The playing was muscular when needed and the manifold key modulations, lots and lots of them, made the many sections sound fresh. The radiant themes played in the andante surely tugged many listeners’ heartstrings, and recalled Anton Rubinstein’s comment: “Ah, Schubert, eternal sunshine in music.” Schroeder’s stage piano has warmly voiced hammers and Ms. Thompson was everywhere attentive to her partners and their beguiling and florid string lyricism, never covering them.

Listeners looking for an interpretation of old fashioned romanticism, such as the legendary Cortot-Thibaud-Casals recordings of the Schubert and the Mendelssohn, did not find it in the Navarro’s approach. As throughout the afternoon a warm blended sound seemed their goal, with less interest paid to sharply etched instrumental lines, extended ritards or even minimal departures from the printed score.

With the chamber music season ending there is no reason to alter the long past observation that the exalted Navarro is the preeminent resident piano trio in Northern California.