Home  Reviews  Articles  Calendar  Presenters  Add Event     
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

Cellist Madeleine Bouïssou

ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL COMBINATIONS IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 20, 2019

A Lovely summer afternoon in Sonoma Valley, an excellent small concert hall, enthusiastic audience, exciting musicians and creative programming with interesting story lines. All these were combined July 20 at a Valley of the Moon Festival concert titled “An Italian in Paris.” This is the fifth season of a remarkable two-week Festival, founded by pianist Eric Zivian and cellist Tanya Tomkins, at the Hanna Boys Center. Romantic chamber music on period instruments was the format, and included strings, woodwinds, vocalists and fortepiano in well-known and also rarely heard literature.

The “Italian in Paris” was Princess Cristina Belgiojoso (1808-1871), an Italian heiress who escaped husband and police and established a salon in Paris. Many artists, writers and musicians frequented her home, including Rossini, Bellini and Liszt. Hers was a life of drama, public and political service and commitment to the arts.

The concert began with a duet, Rossini’s La Serenata, sung by soprano Nikki Einfield and tenor Kyle Stegall, tenor, with Mr. Eric Zivian. The five-minute duet was a delight of musical charm and warm vocal beauty, with subtle musical interactions among the three performers creating a joyous presentation. Ms. Einfield then returned with Jeffrey LaDeur, fortepiano, to sing Bellini’s five songs from Composizioni da Camera. Farfaletto, “The Little butterfly,” was sung with tenderness and vocal nimbleness.”The Abandonment” gave us darker tones and drama in the accompaniment. The “Fervent Wish” had both simplicity and delightful ornamentation. Vocal interaction with Mr. LaDeur was always tasteful and creative. The clarity and spareness of writing gave the musicians opportunities to play with transitions of phrases and freedom of interpretation. The fourth selection, “At least, if I am not able,” had fine legato phrasing, and the last song, “For pity’s sake” was both theatrical and heartfelt, creating striking emotional impact.

Mr. LaDeur then performed two virtuoso romantic pieces, Liszt’s Sposalizio and Chopin’s Allegro de Concert, Op. 46. The artist spoke at length about the two pieces, relating that Liszt, inspired by Raphael’s painting Marriage of the Virgin, exploited a great variety of tonal resources, and Sposalizio starts with a pentatonic chant-like introduction, proceeding to a fragile and tender middle section and leading to a great climax and coda. The Allegro de Concert is a rarely heard 12-minute sketch for a never composed third piano concerto, and seems to be an experiment in that form minus an orchestra. Instead, there is rather unusual writing of orchestral and solo themes for the piano alone. This Allegro meant a great deal to Chopin, who wrote to friends “When I return to Warsaw, I will open my concert with this piece.” He never returned to Warsaw.

There are enormous technical innovations in this experiment, and LaDeur spoke of the Allegro incorporating Lisztian elements and the Sposalizio having elements of Chopin genius. This was excellent programming and the execution was dazzling. Volume was made up for by subtleties and layering of tones, and thematic passages in the treble were crystalline. There was no excess in sound but always clarity of form and a joy in the interpretation. 

The Performance generated enthusiastic applause and shouts of “bravo” from the audience of 150. The second half of the concert opened with Mr. Stegall and Eric Zivian performing songs to wonderful texts by Victor Hugo. This was greatness in words, music and performance. “If there is a charming garden,” “The tomb and the Rose,” “Child, if I were King” and “Oh! When I sleep” traversed regions of gentle love to darkness and ferocity, to humor and sweetness, and finally to vocal ecstasy. Mr. Stegall’s and Mr. Zivian”s instruments intertwined, captured complex imaginations and transported us into the magic world of these romantic songs.

Liszt championed Franck’s compositions, and violinist Rachel Barton Pine introduced the Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 1, no. 2, composed in Franck’s Parisian student days. The violinist noted in remarks to the audience that this seldom performed trio has no modern edition and therefore the musicians (Ms. Pine; cellist Madeleine Bouissou; and pianist David Belkovski) had to edit the music in rehearsal and solve numerous inconsistencies in the score. The three performers indeed made lovely music, expressive, beautifully phrased, pleasantly sweet. The score itself is often simplistic, repetitive and predictable with long stretches of solo and duet or unison melodies. The four movements had a variety of tempo and character and even considerable charm. They would be pleasant in a salon setting. It was interesting to hear this trio and contrast it with later works in which Franck achieves greatness. Ms. Pine’s violin playing shone with delicacy, warmth and passion and the trio played with loving attentiveness and care. 

Following this concert, the excited and grateful audience enjoyed an outdoor wine and refreshment event and a chance to talk about music with others and with the musicians of the Festival. This was an afternoon to recall with pleasure.