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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 / Saturday, July 28, 2018
Monica Huggett and Rachell Wong, violin; Marc Schachman, oboe; Sadie Glass, horn; Andrew Gonzalez, viola; Christian de Luca, fortepiano; Kate Van Orden, bassoon; Eric Hoeprich, clarinet; Tanya Tomkins, cello; Eric Zivian, piano. Apprentices TBA

Violinist Monica Huggett

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 Festival apprentice fortepianist Christian De Luca performing Beethoven’s Violin Sonata Op. 24 (“Spring”). This Sonata, as Ms. Huggett told the audience in humorous and lively introductory remarks, has exemplary violin writing, and she gave a nuanced and spirited performance with liquid scales and lyrical tone in profusion. Violin and fortepiano traded themes, intertwined, contrasting and reinforcing each other. The two parts were always clear and balanced in the opening allegro. The second movement was played with heartfelt tenderness and the forward-moving tempo supported masterful melody shaping. Then the intensely rhythmical and cleverly syncopated scherzo was delightfully played. The final rondo was played with careful matching of articulation and beautiful phrase shaping. The main theme appeared in different guises and myriad delightful forms. The audience gave this performance a standing ovation and bravos.

Hummel’s Clarinet Quartet in E-Flat Major (S. 78) followed. Erich Hoeprich, on an historic replica clarinet he crafted, joined 2018 Laureates Rachel Wong, violin, violist Andrew Gonzalez and Festival co-founder Tanya Tomkins on the cello. Hummel was a Mozart and Haydn protégé and in this Quartet of about 28 minutes he integrates the clarinet into the chamber group rather than contrasting the wind sound against the strings, a remarkable achievement of the composer and of these performers.

The first movement (allegro moderato has a charming opening, the themes being traded with classical clarity reminiscent of Mozart. The music is vibrant and bubbly, and has some mystery and changeable moods of passion and drama. All the while the instrumental voices interacted and created a unified sound rather than flights of individualism. The second movement was in tarantella style, played with precision and outstanding wild passages, especially from the cello. The andante third movement featured playing of lovely legato phrases. The mood was pleasant and the interpretation was beautifully understated. The rondo was full of musical gestures of the Classical Period. Particularly effective were passages pairing the violin and viola and the continual blending of clarinet and strings. This Hummel Quartet from 1807 certainly could inspire listeners to become acquainted with more of his compositions. Once again there was a standing ovation.

After the intermission Beethoven’s unique piano/woodwind quintet, Opus 16, was performed by Marc Schachman, oboe; Mr. Hoeprich, hornist Sadie Glass; Kate van Orden, bassoon; and Festival pianist Eric Zivian. This piece was inspired by Mozart’s quintet for the same ensemble and in fact, Mozart seemed to be an unseen inspiring presence throughout the afternoon. Beethoven’s opening (grave) was rhythmical and crisp, the piano exhibiting its power without competing with or overpowering the wind ensemble. This led into an allegro of relaxed spontaneity and large gestures, occasionally evoking dreamy worlds. Modern instruments can make this writing sound like a piano concerto, but here it was a fresh collaborative sound. An extramusical moment of drama was the breaking of a fortepiano string, but Mr. Zvian assured the audience that the music could be carried on with the note’s remaining string.

The andante movement is certainly one of the most beautiful pieces in chamber music repertoire. The fortepiano opening theme was very expressive and led to the wind instruments reiteration with their full and forceful tone. Thereafter each instrument was featured in a solo: Mr. Schachman’s rich oboe tone, Ms. van Orden’s mellow bassoon, the distinctive colors of horn and clarinet all singing out, then all rising on a chromatic tide together to bring back the fortepiano with new elegant ornamentation. The third movement is a rondo romp with typical hunting horn harmonies, tossing of ideas back and forth, with phrases calling for play, dance, and to rejoice. The tempo was well chosen and the music was performed straightforward, direct and full of optimism.

A reception with wine and happy company concluded the afternoon of a musical visit to the world of palaces in Vienna and Prague of the 18th century. Bravos to Valley of the Moon Festival musicians! “Aufwiedersehen” next summer.