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Recital
DYNAMIC PIANISM IN YAKUSHEV MARIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev arrived Jan. 23 at his Mill Valley Chamber Music Society recital with the repute of playing loud and fast and delivering charming introductory musical remarks to his audience. He was true to form in Mill Valley’s Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church, preceding Haydn’s sple
Symphony
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 9, 2022
The Jan. 9 Santa Rosa Symphony concert was supposed to feature the world premiere of Gabriella Smith’s first symphony, but it ended up featuring another type of premiere: a concert that was conceived, rehearsed and performed in less than eight hours. Symphony staff learned on Sunday morning that so
Choral and Vocal
AN OLD FRIEND RETURNS TO WEILL IN STERLING ABS MESSIAH PERFORMANCE
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, December 19, 2021
A tremendous accomplishment by the American Bach Soloists Dec. 19 was near perfect performance of Handel's Messiah in Weill Hall. Long an annual tradition at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, the ABS took to the road and delivered a Christmas gift of epic proportions to an obviously thrilled and enth
Symphony
SHOSTAKOVICH FIFTH THUNDERS AT WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 5, 2021
In a new season marketed as “Classical Reunion,” the Santa Rosa Symphony made a palpable connection with its audience at the early December set of three standing ovation concerts in Weill Hall. The December 5 concert, with 1,000 attending, is reviewed here. Vaughan Williams’ popular Fantasia on a T
Chamber
THE LINCOLN RETURNS WITH CLARKE'S PUNGENT TRIO
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, November 18, 2021
There were many familiar faces Nov. 18 during Music at Oakmont’s initial concert of the season, but perhaps the most necessary were the three musicians of the Lincoln Piano Trio, the Chicago-based group that has performed often in Oakmont since 2006. A smaller than unusual audience in Berger Audito
Symphony
NOSTALGIC BARBER KNOXVILLE AT SO CO PHIL JACKSON THEATER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
In their first Jackson Theater appearance of the new season the Sonoma County Philharmonic presented Nov. 14 a program devoid of novelty, but showcasing the “People’s Orchestra” in splendid performance condition after a long COVID-related layoff. Conductor Norman Gamboa drew a committed and boister
Chamber
THRILLING PIANO QUINTETS IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 14, 2021
The Mill Valley Chamber Music Society sprang back to life on November 14 when a stellar ensemble from the Manhattan Chamber Players, a New York-based collective, arrived to perform two piano quintets: Vaughn-Williams’ in C Minor (1903), little known and rarely performed; and Schubert’s in A Major D.
Chamber
MUSCULAR BRAHMS FROM IVES COLLECTIVE IN GLASER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Leaving SRJC’s Newman Auditorium for the first time in decades, the College’s Chamber Concert Series presented a season-opening concert Nov. 14 in Santa Rosa’s Glaser Center with the four-musician Bay-Area based Ives Collective. The season, the first given since 2020, is dedicated to Series Founder
Symphony
MONUMENTAL BRAHMS SYMPHONY HIGHLIGHTS MARIN SYMPHONY RETURN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 7, 2021
In the waning COVID pandemic the Marin Symphony is one of the last Bay Area orchestras to return to the stage, and they did with considerable fanfare Nov. 7 before 1,200 in Civic Center Auditorium, with resident conductor Alasdair Neale leading a demanding concert of Brahms, Schumann and New York-ba
Symphony
APOLLO'S FIRE LIGHTS UP VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Long ago the Canadian violin virtuoso Gil Shaham played a program in Weill Hall of solo Bach, with a visual backdrop of slowly developing visuals, such as a pokey flower opening over four minutes. The Bach was sensational, and some in the audience liked the photos but many found them disconcerting,
CHAMBER REVIEW
ChamberFest Four - Sonoma State University / Friday, June 24, 2016
Jon Kimura Parker and Jeffrey Kahane, piano; Laura Reynolds, oboe; David Shifrin, clarinet; Douglas Brown, bassoon; Benjamin Taber, horn; Angelo Xiang Yu, violin; Hai-Ye Ni, cello

Oboist Laura Reynolds

MENDELSSOHN, SCHUBERT AND MOZART AGAIN SOAR IN SCHROEDER

by Sonia Morse Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Friday, June 24, 2016

Program four of ChamberFest 2016 was the second June 24 concert in one day, and there was an abundance of musical offerings and enrichment. Jeffrey Kahane and Jon Kimura Parker started the evening in Schroeder with Mendelssohn's A Major Andante and Allegro Brilliant, Op. 92, for piano four hands. This was announced as a piece previously unknown to the performers and they happily shared their pleasure in the new discovery.

The Andante opening flowed in alternating phrases, the pianists negotiating the limited personal space gracefully, two backs leaning over one keyboard and arms moving in and out of each other's way. The humorous Allegro sections made frequent use of the charming light staccato Mendelssohn loves and then liquid legato on the full toned house piano. This Brilliant lived up to its name and both musicians conveyed a sense of truly enjoying each other's company and the music. After much applause the stage was reset for Mozart's E-Flat Major Quintet for Piano and Winds, K. 452.

Clarinetist David Shifrin spoke to the audience of the five musician’s experience of playing Mozart’s music, and that this quintet from 1784 is said to have been the composer’s favorite composition and it did much to further the development of woodwind quintets. Warm opening chords established the mood of personal and shared joy in music, not directed outwards at others but drawing others into the shared circle. Laura Reynolds' oboe phrasing soared and Mr. Shifrin's clarinet had a vocal character. The tones from hornist Benjamin Jaber cushioned the music and heralded visions of distant places while Douglas Brown’s bassoon joined the counterpoint.

In this world of diverse natural sound Mr. Kimura Parker's playing contrasted the brilliant string and ringing sounds. At the heart of the work the Larghetto moves and beguiles. Entrances were perfectly aligned, tutti crescendos swelled and solo sections featured the individual sonorities of the ensemble. The concluding Rondo was a  cheerful happy-go-lucky celebration. As usual, opera with it's dramatic and comic aspects is never far from Mozart's sensibility, and Papageno from ”The Magic Flute” could have been waiting in the wings.

To complete the evening Mr. Kahane was joined by violinist Angelo Xiang Yu and cellist Jai-Ye Ni for Schubert's B-Flat Trio, Op. 99.  The words 'greatest" and "most beloved" had been used to describe some of the ChamberFest pieces, and here was another that could claim such a distinction. Schubert's first movement started in a sprightly tempo, sometimes urgent, sometimes relaxed, the themes ranging from heroic to achingly lovely. The piano line sparkled over pulsing strings. Ms. Ni’s cello playing rose to the challenges of balancing the other parts and provided pizzicatos that reverberated with power and delicacy combined. The combination of Mr. Yu's artistry and the lovely Stradivarius violin he plays gave moments of otherworldly sensations. Sometimes a single held note seemed to contain limitless possibilities, and the passing of melody from one instrument to the next was always gracious and satisfying.

A beautifully shaped Andante started with gorgeous piano phrases in its soft range, onto which the cello's simple melody floated effortlessly. Ms. Ni's cello sighed and longed, the fragility of life and love audible in her playing and visible in her face. The music passed from instrument to instrument, gathering intensity for a more rhythmical Spanish style interlude and returned at a whisper of sound. Here Mr. Yu played at the edge of silence with a stunningly pure tone.

Full of humor and drama, the Scherzo fulfilled its mission of jolting listeners out of any reveries. The fast tempo elected allowed effective occasional ritardando. Motives bounced around, from tiptoeing to stamping.  This movement was full of dynamic surprises and capricious changes. More straightforward, the Rondo, Allegro vivace started with a simple melody and continued through dozens of scene changes as if this were a show with acrobats, dancers, jugglers and clowns all coming and going. Grand unison motifs led to delicate dances. Ringing bells in the music appeared and disappeared. Wandering modulations teased and left one guessing. A wild ending completed the wanderings.

This great trio was played with passion and intelligence, and the captivated audience gave thanks with abundant applause and bravos.