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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
Valley of the Moon Music Festival / Saturday, July 23, 2016
Elizabeth Blumenstock, viola; Sadie Glass, horn; Holly Piccoli, violin; Kyle Stegall, tenor; Tanya Tomkins, cello; Eric Zivian, fortepiano

Eric Zivian and Kyle Stegall at VOM Music Festival Concert (J.Hefti Photo)

SCHUBERT'S THEMES OF YOUTH AND DEATH AT VOM MUSIC FESTIVAL CONCERT

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 23, 2016

The beautiful new Hanna Boys Center auditorium in Sonoma Valley was the setting for the July 23 concert of the Valley of the Moon (VOM) Music Festival, now in it’s second year. Directors Tanya Tomkins and Eric Zivian have created a Festival of Classical and Romantic repertoire played on period instruments or copies of same, all string instruments using gut rather than steel. This is now recognized as "historically informed " performance practice.

Great music and professional musicians would provide exciting concerts, but there is much more to this Festival. There is an apprentice program for young artists who are coached and then perform, not only in their own groups, but included with their teachers in all concerts. This new/old tradition breathes a wonderful vitality into VOM Festival.
   
Titled Death and the Maiden, the all-Schubert program began with some of the composer’s Lieder (he wrote over three hundred) from which tenor Kyle Stegall and fortepianist Eric Zivian chose seven. The songs all explored themes of death and youth. Death is inevitable and wicked; youth and beauty are fragile. Mr. Stegall sang with great intensity of emotion in all ranges, and the audience and singer seemed completely engaged in the drama and beauty of the music and words.  Mr. Zivian accompanied with subtle touches and beautiful shadings of tone that are possible on the fortepiano. First on the program was Auf dem Strom which has a horn part as duet with the singer, one of only a handful of such compositions. Sadie Glass played the period horn with beautiful legato lines and exciting changes of color in this lyrical and dramatic piece. It was tender and moving. The balance of parts was exquisite. Mr. Stegall then continued with An Silvia (from Shakespeare) and then Verklarung (from Pope), ending with the line "Oh Death, where is thy sting?,“ and sung in anguished fortissimo following a dramatic recitative and an almost whispered "Beloved spirit, come and rest!".

The singer at times seemed transported to other worlds, expressing the texts with gestures of voice, face, eyes, hands and body. Knowing German was not necessary for understanding the emotional journeys in Der Jungling an der Quelle and Der Jungling und der Tod . An eery and unforgettable moment occurred at the end of the song Death and the Maiden, as Mr. Stegall very slowly raised his right hand out toward the audience and stared into the far distance.

After a short intermission the song Death and the Maiden returned as the beloved String Quartet in D minor, D. 810, in which the Lied is used in a theme and variations movement.  Ms. Thomkins (cello) and violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock joined apprentices Holly Piccoli (violin) and violist Liana Berube and produced a fine performance. The period instrument stringing and the style of playing that suits the music allowed for different shadings of musical lines. Sometimes the lines were quite intimate and even muted, with clear blended unisons and sometimes foggy effects, and provided fresh insights.

In the Allegro Ms. Tomkins was magnificent leading and supporting the Beethoven-like themes of passionate striving. Sweetly melting harmonies and dying dotted rhythms were effective. The Andante theme and variations traversed musical landscapes from tragic sadness to a beauty overcoming all. The variation featuring cello pizzicato and complex lively inner rhythms was outstanding. The Scherzo movement was played with effective harshness of tone and wild syncopations, and then the galloping Presto movement was energetic and compelling.
    
After a reception featuring Beltane Ranch wines, there was a round table discussion led by KDFC FM radio’s Rick Malone. Musicians spoke of the search for new forms of articulation on these instruments and the shift from gesture and dance in the Baroque to the psychological journeys, long lines and stories of Schubert and Schumann. Ms. Tomkins was eloquent in her description of her own journey to this area of historical performance and in describing the excitement of the apprentice program.