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Chamber
HEROIC TRUMPET AND ORGAN MUSIC AT INCARNATION
by Jerry Dibble
Friday, October 12, 2018
The strong connections between Santa Rosa’s musical community and California State University Chico were on display Oct. 12 as David Rothe, Professor Emeritus in the Chico Music Department, and Ayako Nakamura, trumpet with the North State Symphony, presented a concert titled “Heroic Music for Trumpe...
Symphony
LECCE-CHONG PROVES HIS METTLE WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 07, 2018
Francesco Lecce-Chong was handed two warhorses for his debut as conductor of the Santa Rosa Symphony, and he rode them both to thrilling victory. For the first win, Brahms’ violin concerto, he owed much to soloist Arnaud Sussman, but for the other triumph, Beethoven’s fifth symphony, he and his musi...
Chamber
THORNY BARTOK AND ELEGANT MENDELSSOHN FOR THE BRENTANO
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, September 30, 2018
In a minor masterpiece of programming choices the Brentano String Quartet played a Sept. 30 Weill Hall program with an emphasis on refinement, even with a challenging Bartok work in the mix. Dvorák’s Miniatures for Two Violins and Viola (Op. 75a) opened the concert with charm and gentle loveliness,...
Chamber
ECHO'S RICH MUSICAL TAPESTRY IN MARIN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, September 30, 2018
Marin’s Echo Chamber Orchestra unfurled a glorious tapestry of Mozart, Weber and Respighi music Sept. 30 in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church. The church, located on the grounds of San Francisco Theological Seminary, boasts a ceiling high enough for angels to fly, and its quiet setting and aco...
Recital
IDIOMATIC SCHUMANN AND BEETHOVEN HIGHTLIGHT WALKER'S CONCERTS GRAND RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 23, 2018
Mostly known as a concert producer and indefatigable promoter of Sonoma County music, pianist Judy Walker stepped into the soloist’s role Sept. 23 in a sold out recital for the Concerts Grand House recitals series. Two Scarlatti Sonatas, in D Minor (K. 213) and D Major (K. 29), began the hour-long ...
Symphony
SAKAKEENY'S LION AND ROSE HIGHLIGHTS SO CO PHIL'S 20TH SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 22, 2018
Fresh from a triumphant tour in Latin America the Sonoma County Philharmonic opened its 20th season Sept. 22 in a celebratory concert in the Santa Rosa High School Auditorium. Keeping to the evening’s orchestra history and past performance, conductor emeritus Gabriel Sakakeeny, who led the So Co Ph...
Recital
DEDIK'S POTENT BEETHOVEN AND CHOPIN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Monday, September 17, 2018
Anastasia Dedik returned Sept. 17 to the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series in a recital that featured three familiar virtuoso works in potent interpretations. Chopin’s G Minor Ballade hasn’t been heard in Sonoma County public concerts since a long-ago Earl Wild performance, and Beethoven’s...
Recital
DUO WEST OPENS OCCIDENTAL CONCERT SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 09, 2018
Before a full house at the Occidental Performing Arts Center Sept. 9 the cello-piano Duo West, playing from score throughout, presented a recital that on paper looked stimulating and thoughtful. Beginning with MacDowell’s To A Wild Rose (from Woodland Sketches, Op. 51), the transcription by an unan...
Chamber
CELLO-PIANO DUO IN HUSKY SPRING LAKE VILLAGE PROGRAM
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, September 05, 2018
Two thirds of the way through a stimulating 22-concert season the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series Sept. 5 presented two splendid cello sonatas before 110 people in the Village’s Montgomery auditorium. A duo for more than a decade, East Bay musicians cellist Monica Scott and pianist Hadle...
Chamber
EXTRAVAGANT FUSION OF STYLES AT CHRIS BOTTI BAND WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Jerry Dibble
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Trumpeter Chris Botti still performs in jazz venues including SF Jazz and The Blue Note, but now appears mostly in cavernous halls or on outdoor stages like the Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center. He brought his unique road show to the packed Weill Hall August 12 in a concert of effusive e...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Valley of the Moon Music Festival / Sunday, July 22, 2018
Augusta McKay Lodge and Susanna Foster, violin; Lauren Nelson, viola; Tanya Tomkins and Madeleine Bouissou, cello; Eric Zivian, Jeffrey LaDeur and Christian De Luca, piano

C. De Luca and M. Bouissou (A. Wasserman Photo)

INNOVATIVE CHAMBER WORKS IN HANNA CENTER CONCERT

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Valley of the Moon Music Festival presented a July 22 concert featuring three giants: Haydn, Schubert and Schumann, composers who altered music of their time with creative innovations and artistic vision.

In the fourth season the Festival’s theme this year is “Vienna in Transition”, and VOM Festival co-founders Cellist Tanya Tomkins and pianist Eric Zivian have created an environment for professional musicians and apprentices to explore masterworks using historic instruments. The periods explored during several summers range from the Baroque, Classical and remarkably also to the Romantic era. Instruments include the fortepiano, strings, woodwinds and also singers. Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center Auditorium is an pleasant venue and local wineries provide wine tasting, making the atmosphere social and festive.

The innovative program commenced with Haydn’s Trio in E Major (H. XV:28), with performers Augusta McKay Lodge, violin, Ms. Tomkins and Mr. Zivian playing a Mozart piano copy. Haydn as innovator had to generate musical ideas on his own because he was isolated at the rural Esterhazy palace in Hungary. The first movement of the trio, Allegro moderato, starts with a smile as all play an unusual pizzicato theme. The music continues with delightful surprises and clever musical wit. The playing was clear, elegant and warmhearted. The second movement opens with an unusually extended piano solo in a dark Baroque style with dramatic right hand obligato melodies covering wide ranges above the bass continuo. In a surprise development, the violin and cello join and reinforce the theme, then leave the fortepiano to complete its journey alone. The playing in finale was a rondo full of light and joy, flirtatious, sometimes teasing. Ms. Lodge’s violin part added rich tone to the cello’s warmth and Zivian played with sparkle, drama and joy. It was a rewarding experience to hear Haydn on these historic instruments.

Schubert composed his Allegro in A Minor, D. 947 (“Lebenssturme”) for piano four hands. Jeffrey LaDeur and Mr. Zivian played this monumental piece on a larger early piano, built in 1841, which has an expanded range from the Mozart-ear instrument. Schubert was a great innovator in form and harmony and virtuoso pianist Alfred Brendel said Schubert was like a “sleepwalker” in harmony progressions that many the Hall’s audience seemed to follow in wonder and belief. This duet strives to be orchestral with its many layers, from poignant melodies to stormy outbursts. The fortepiano was certainly pushed to dynamic extremes and the partners sensitively evoked the mixtures of Viennese pomp and elegance, with the intimate moments juxtaposed with drama and even melodramatic flourishes.

After intermission four young musicians who are Festival apprentices shared from the stage their musical thoughts about the program. Performing Schumann’s E Flat Op. 47 piano quartet were Susanna Foster, violin; violist Lauren Nelson; Madeleine Bouissou, cello, and pianist Christian de Luca. Schumann often broke musical barriers and forged new forms. His compositional daring is remarkable. Constantly changing perspectives can leave one bewildered and intrigued, and always engaged.

The opening sostenuto movement is like sounds being born out of a mist and then the bursts of energetic chords with fast piano solo passages emerge. Here, the instrumental balance was sometimes weighted so strongly to the strings that the beautiful virtuoso piano writing was left in the background. This was very different from modern instrument performances in which one often hears the piano as one complete powerful entity in contrast to the string trio as another entity. This performance sometimes had extremes of rubato that tended to cause distortions of rhythm. The playing the scherzo was wild and sizzled. A very brisk tempo sacrificed clarity to effective diabolic shapes and flickers. In the trios, Ms. Nelson’s viola was beautifully resonant and provided a rich center.

The andante from the 1842 piece, renowned for its romantic melodies, was played with fine ensemble, sometimes delightfully understated, with string sonority emerging gloriously.This was followed by the vivace finale. The quartet was well balanced and played with spirited energy, clear articulation and well-crafted phrasing. It was joyous performance and elicited sustained applause and bravos from the audience!

Nicki Bell contributed to this review.