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GAULIST FLAVOR IN FINAL SF PIANO FESTIVAL CONCERT AT OLD FIRST
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Final summer music festival programs are often a mix of what has come before, with the theme and even a featured composer taking a last stage appearance, with a dramatic wrap up composition. San Francisco’s International Piano Festival defied the norm August 29 with an eclectic French-flavored prog
SPARE DUO PRECEDES MYSTEROUS DUO AT DEN BOER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, August 27, 2021
In a departure from usual summer festival fare Julia Den Boer played an August 27 virtual recital in the San Francisco Piano Festival’s 4.5 season with four works, all mostly quiet but all in separate ways insistently demanding of artist and listener. Throughout the 40 minutes there was nary a powe
HARMONIC COMPLEXITY IN PHILLIPS' ALL-GRIFFES RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, August 20, 2021
Charles Griffes’ piano music is similar to that of Busoni, Reger and even Poulenc, in that there is a sporadic flourish of interest with concerts and scholarly work, then a quick fade into another long period of obscurity. So, it was a delight to have an all-Griffes recital August 20 on the San F
Chamber
ONE PIANO, TWO PIANO, THREE PIANO, FORE
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Schroeder Hall was nearly full July 29 for the final pianoSonoma concert of their season, and presumably the draw and highlight for many of the 150 attending was Bach’s Concerto for Four Pianos. And that performance was probably going to be a North Bay premiere. However, it wasn’t the highl
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PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT FEATURES GORGEOUS VOCALISM
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Thursday, July 29, 2021
The 2021 Valley of the Moon Music Festival continued on July 29 with a sumptuous online offering of French songs, concluding with the second piano quartet by Fauré, Op. 45. Such a beautiful bouquet of video performances wonderfully filmed and recorded softened the disappointment of not being able to
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SIX GUITARISTS IN UNIQUE NAPA RECITAL
by Gary Digman
Sunday, July 25, 2021
The first Napa Valley Guitar Festival was held at Napa’s First Presbyterian Church July 25, and featured performances from six classical guitarists. The Church is an iconic structure in downtown Napa, its huge white presence dominating the scene, and the white theme continues inside punctuated by be
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BOGAS' TENURE ENDS IN OUTDOOR GUALALA CHAMBER CONCERT
by Iris Lorenzfife
Sunday, July 25, 2021
The preconcert call that music lovers should gather at Gualala Arts July 25 to attend the final Roy Bogas and Friends Concert was not quite as dire as it sounded. It seems that a year of Covid 19 and an 88th birthday had combined to convince Mr. Bogas that he was working too hard. But with cellist P
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CLARA SCHUMANN TRIO COMMANDS VOM CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT AT HANNA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 24, 2021
The Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Series has begun several virtual and a few live concerts in its new seventh season, some broadcast from Sonoma’s Hanna Center Hall and some in posh local venues. July 24’s video had a small live audience and a well-produced video program of three works. Titled “
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RARE LANG SONGS SPARKLE AT VOM FESTIVAL VIDEO RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Unexpected pleasures are often the best. Valley of the Moon Chamber Festival presented a such a pleasure last week-a July 21 recorded performance by tenor Kyle Stegall and pianist Eric Zivian in another mini-recital (very mini-just 15 minutes!) of six songs by the nineteenth century German composer
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EXEMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MENDO FESTIVAL FT. BRAGG CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Faced with the impossibility of presenting concerts in the iconic large white tent on the bluff, the Mendocino Music Festival opted to use Ft. Bragg’s Cotton Auditorium for ten events in the abbreviated 35th season. San Francisco’s Alexander String Quartet played July 21 to a fully masked audience
CHAMBER REVIEW
Brave New Music / Saturday, July 10, 2021
Gary McLaughlin, violin; Rose McCoy, piano

Violinist Gary McLaughlin

RARELY-PLAYED SCHUMANN HIGHLIGHTS HEALDSBURG RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 10, 2021

Brave New Music sporadically produces concerts in and around Healdsburg, and July 10’s violin recital in downtown St. Paul’s Church must have been one of the first post-lockdown, post-be-extra-careful classical music concerts in Sonoma County's summer season.

New Music Founder Gary McLaughlin with his long-time pianist Rose McCoy presented a formidable program centered around two big sonatas, interlaced with four short works seemingly on the menu to give relief on a hot afternoon day, albeit with St. Paul’s good air conditioning that was thankfully pretty quiet.

Kreisler’s slow, mournful Grave march opened with Mr. McLaughlin’s rich low-end violin sonority just right, generating applause from the 35 attending.

Beethoven’s A Minor (Op. 23) Sonata followed, a three-movement work less popular than the neighboring “Spring” Sonata, but hardly less important. Playing from score as he did throughout, the violinist caught the slightly subdued drama of the opening movement and the duo’s flexibility of phrase and tiny rubatos were effective, as were the descending flourishes in both instruments.

Ms. McCoy’s clear articulation (with a tubby lower register piano, oddly placed at far left of the chancel) in the “q and a” Andante, Scherzo second movement spotlighted the fugal motifs, and the trills in both instruments added interest. There was humor in the off-beat accent playing.

The finale showed how the composer just can’t let go of an idea, and the playing reminded one of the piano sonatas of the period (“Tempest”) and had ample momentum, as did this splendid piece over a concise 23 minutes. It didn’t sound long at all.

After a short intermission Schumann’s A Minor Sonata, Op. 105, was heard and was with the concert’s highlight. With rich romantic legato throughout it was a big contrast to the Beethoven, and I cannot remember a North Bay performance of this work in many years. The duo had the surging emotion well in hand, though with a wide violin vibrato intonation could be pesky in the top range. Tempos and instrumental balances were fine. The performance in the Allegretto was a delight, but not note perfect.

What a pleasure was the concluding Lebhaft, the music making demands on both players in a menacing, rumbling race-horse tumult leading to a strong up scale, down scale ending. This ending is common in chamber music (example: Louis Vierne’s Piano Quintet) but no less exciting for it. There was loud applause.

Of the shorter works, Amy Beach’s affecting Romance was an antidote to the Schumann Sonata’s excitement, but clearly equally rich harmonically. In fact it was a little underplayed with less than full vibrato, but it was played with careful attention to detail and brimming with subtle charm.

Balcom’s popular Graceful Ghost Rag concluded the concert in a slow hothouse tempo befitting the Healdsburg heat wave, and Mr. McLaughlin’s double stops never faltered, albeit with a sharp and thin upper register tone. The fetching work featured the concert’s first pizzicato string playing and again exemplary accents in Ms. McCoy’s piano artistry. This work, in its original piano setting or in transcriptions, seldom fails to delight an audience, and at the last lugubrious notes silence ensued, and then a standing ovation.

The concert repeats at 4:30 July 18 at the Paul Mahder Gallery in downtown Healdsburg. Financial donations are requested.