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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
SCHUBERT "MIT SCHLAG" AT VOM FESTIVAL MORNING CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
The spirit of 19th century Vienna was present July 29 on the final day of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival in the second half of July glittered with innovative programming and the new, old sound of original instruments played by musicians who love music with historic instruments. ...
Chamber
PASSIONATE BRAHMS-SCHOENBERG MUSIC CLOSES VOM FESTIVAL SUMMER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
An extraordinary program of chamber music by Brahms and Schoenberg attracted a capacity crowd to the Valley of the Moon Music Festival’s final concert July 29th in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. It opened with a richly expressive reading by Festival Laureate violinist Rachell Wong and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur...
Chamber
PRAGUE AND VIENNA PALACE GEMS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 28, 2018
The remarkable Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented a concert called “Kinsky Palace” July 28 on their final Festival weekend in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. Two well-known treasures and one lesser gem were programmed. Starting the afternoon offerings were violinist Monica Huggett and Fest...
Chamber
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 Fes...
Chamber
VIENNA INSPIRATION FOR VOM FESTIVAL PROGRAM AT HANNA CENTER
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, July 21, 2018
A music-loving audience filled Sonoma’s Hanna Center Auditorium July 21 to begin a record weekend of three concerts, produced by the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival’s theme this summer is “Venice in Transition – From the Enlightenment to the Dawn of Modernism” Prior to Saturday’s m...
Chamber
VANHAL QUARTET AT VOM FESTIVAL DISCOVERY AT HANNA CENTER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 15, 2018
A near-capacity crowd of 220 filled the Sonoma Hanna Boys Center Auditorium July 15 for the opening concert of the fourth Valley of the Moon Music Festival. This Festival presents gems of the Classical and early Romantic periods performed on instruments of the composer’s era, which presents a few ch...
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 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.