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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
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
Chamber
SPARKLING WIND, STRING, HARP MUSIC AT DEVON HOUSE GARDEN CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Take a mild autumn evening, a garden gazebo with patterned rugs and lit with soft bulbs, shake in a fine chamber ensemble, add a rising new moon, and you have a recipe for the musical delight that violist Elizabeth Prior presented Oct. 9 in her Devon House Garden Concert series. The Marin Terra Li
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
Chamber
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
Chamber
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
Chamber
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 “
Chamber
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
Chamber
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
Mill Valley Chamber Music Society / Sunday, November 14, 2021
Manhattan Chamber Players. Adam Golkas, piano; Emily Doggett Smith, violin; Luke Fleming. viola; Andrea Casarrubios, cello; Nicholas Cathcart, double bass

Manhattan Chamber Players

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. 667 (the “Trout,” 1819) one of the most frequently performed works in the chamber repertoire.

This is the 49th season of the Society, and after the enforced hiatus due to the pandemic, outgoing president Bill Horne and incoming president Jane Rogers took the stage in front of the capacity Mt. Tamalpais Church audience to be honored.

Violist Luke Fleming, the Players’ founder, introduced the Vaughn-Williams, and the rest of the quintet then settled in for the lush and dramatic first movement (Allegro con fuoco) with slicing, roiling cascades of sound that evolved sweetly into a chorale underscored by double bass pizzicato. In this quintet, as with the Schubert and very few other piano quintets, the double bass replaces the second violin, creating a subtle earthy grounding to the harmonies.

Pianist Adam Golka elicited rich instrumental sonorities with thrilling runs and ringing arpeggios, and the strings’ sounds rose, blended and fell back, their individuality clearly audible. The musicians played with admirable ensemble clarity and with balance. Mr. Fleming’s viola line combined with the double bass (Nicholas Cathcart), and Andrea Casarrubios’ elegant cello playing and Emily Daggett Smith’s soaring violin added lyrical flights and ominous undercurrents to this passionate, poetical work. The first movement ended on a hushed unison note, a reverent stillness, out of which the tender Andante movement emerged with chorale-like sequences, the strings at times sounding a benediction.

The Fantasia third movement blossomed with motifs and echoes from the strings and piano, then a transparent canon that grew in complexity, with staccato passages and insistent repeated notes morphing into elegant legato, and a sudden turbulence with percussive chords restlessly ascending and falling until, with a palpable weariness, the music hesitated and slowed. Then, toward the conclusion of the work, the pace quickened and slowed, like a storm that breaks and then passes over. The quintet ended tranquilly and the audience responded with enthusiasm, many standing to applaud.

Schubert composed the beloved “Trout” when he was only 22, but it was not performed publicly until after his death at 32; the reason for this delay is not known. But like Hummel before him and Vaughn-Williams after him, he substituted the double bass for second violin. Mr. Fleming introduced the quintet as “one of the brilliant pillars of chamber repertoire,” and in a charming and unexpected treat, Ms. Smith and Mr. Golka joined together to play the Schubert song on which it is based - The Trout (Die Forelle), taking us right to the source.

Die Forelle is the basis for the quintet’s theme and its fourth movement variations. It tells the story of a fisherman hooking a lively trout and an onlooker’s distress at seeing the struggling fish, but is also thought be a warning to girls to watch out for young men who would “catch” them. The evocation in the music is of a shining stream with the flashing silver scales of a fighting fish and the sadness that something so beautiful must lose its life.

There are five movements. The first, Allegro vivace, in sonata form, was performed alternately gaily and introspectively; the following Andante, as a lullaby with dark, lovely harmonies from the strings. When the piano line jumped into the midst of those harmonies, it was like a fish leaping out of a cascading stream. The third movement, in three-quarter time (Scherzo: Presto), is also full of brave leaps and lunges, the vigor of life asserting itself, undercut by a plaintive melody from the double bass. The fourth movement, the six variations on Schubert’s song, Andantino, showed off each musician’s skill in various combinations, and all shone forth in turn. Only once, in a particularly exciting passage on the piano, did Mr. Golka briefly drown out the strings, and there it might have been to express the fisherman’s triumph.

The Allegro Giusto final movement brought the quintet to a buoyant pitch, creating a peasant dance effect with trade-offs by strings and piano and a thrilling rhythmic pulse. This so-familiar work had been given fresh and vivid life, and the appreciative audience rose as one, giving the musicians a standing ovation. No encore was offered, but none was necessary, and many in the audience said they were ecstatic to be back with live music.