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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
Piano Sonoma / Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Emi Ferguson, flute; Peter Dugan and Angie Zhang, piano; Down Na, violin; Julia Glenn, violin and viola; Michael Dahlberg, cello;

Flutist Emi Ferguson at Piano Sonoma Festival

YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT

by
Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in-residence program attracting young musicians from leading music schools.

The evening began with playing of a section of Bach’s Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), Nos. 16-24 and Aria, arranged for strings. A portion of the entire set was featured at each of the four concerts, this time with pianist Angie Zhang, flautist Emi Ferguson, violinist Doori Na, violist Julia Glenn and cellist Michael Dahlberg. From the grand 16th variation “Ouverture” with its pomp and circumstance through the lilting 24th variation “Canone All’ Ottava,” the ensemble playing was strikingly good. These are polished young musicians already equipped with the interpretive skills of seasoned players. It served as a great start to what was a spectacular evening of music making.

Pianist Peter Dugan then offered Beethoven’s Bagatelles, Opus 126, and he is an artist with great expressive skills and has that special performance gene that allows him to communicate directly with an audience. His animated playing was infectious and yet he did it without any of the tawdry pianistic stage gestures one often sees. These are quiet pieces filled with emotion and Mr. Dugan could not have played them any better.

Next came the duo of Ms. Na and Ms. Zhang in a moving exposition of Mozart’s E Minor Piano and Violin Sonata, K. 304. These two seemed to be musical soul mates, as the instruments blended together to create a glorious result in this short work (under 14 minutes) that was written in 1778. For such youthful artists to play at this level was a joy to hear and see. Ms. Zhang was particularly sensitive in her playing and exhibited a thorough understanding of the sonata and its challenges. Mr. Na followed suit with elegant playing in the often somber second movement, in a tasteful partnership with Ms. Zhang. The enthusiastic audience expressed its approval.

The program closed with Haydn’s Piano Trio in G Major, Hob. XV:15, featuring Ms. Ferguson, Mr. Dahlberg and Mr. Dugan. In pre-performance remarks it was stated that Haydn loved to laugh, and the audience was asked to see if they heard any musical jokes, so to speak, in the score. The 20-minute piece from 1790 is certainly light-hearted and frothy in parts, and yet what the ensemble playing revealed was the rich harmonic contours of the score, especially during the andante movement. One literally had to restrain oneself from humming along. Ms. Ferguson’s sprightly flute virtuosity conveyed the emotional content of each movement beautifully. The piano line never dominated the performance and the three musicians had excellent ensemble.

It’s clear that the Piano Sonoma program has attracted serious artists in a Festival of charming music making.