October 25, 2013

Trio Navarro Announces 2013-14 Season

Trio Navarro founding pianist Marilyn Thompson

Trio Navarro, SSU’s piano trio-in-residence since 1992, will present three recitals in Weill Hall during the 2013-14 season. The Sunday performances on November 24, January 26 and April 6 will all begin at 7:30 p.m.

Founding pianist Marilyn Thompson is director of piano and chamber music at the university. She performs as soloist and chamber music collaborator throughout the Bay area. Joining Marilyn on November 24 will be three San Francisco Symphony players – Victor Romasevich, violin; Nancy Ellis, viola; and Jill Rachuy Brindel, cellist and co-founder of Trio Navarro.  The program will feature a work with which Mr. Romasevich has a special connection – the Piano Trio by his former violin teacher, the Russian-Armenian composer and philosopher Iosif Andriasov (1933-2000). The ensemble will also perform Piano Quartets (for violin, viola, cello and piano) by Schumann and Catoire.

The second concert of the series will be an all-French program on January 26 with guest artists Carol Menke, soprano, and Julie McKenzie, flute, joining Thompson, Brindel and Romasevich.

The April 6 concert will feature two magnificent “firsts:” Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 1 in B-flat and one of the most beloved works in the repertoire, Arensky’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor.

Tickets are $10-$15 and parking is included. For information call (707) 664-2324.

Weill Hall at the Green Music Center is located near the intersection of Rohnert Park Expressway and Petaluma Hill Road. Enter campus from Rohnert Park Expressway and park in Lot O.  



November 24, 2013

Catoire: Piano Quartet in A Minor, Op.31
Andriasov: Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 7
Schumann: Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47

January 26, 2014

Ravel: Chansons madecasses
Ravel: Piano Trio in A Minor    
Durufle: Prelude, Recitative & Variations
Poulenc: Fiancailles pour rire  

April 6, 2014

Schubert: Piano Trio No. 1 in B-flat
Arensky: Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor 


3-Concert Package

Pianist Marilyn Thompson received her Bachelor’s Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she was a student of Adolph Baller. She was awarded a Fulbright grant to the Vienna Academy of Music, and subsequently received her Master’s Degree from Stanford University, where she studied under the Helen Evans Memorial Scholarship on a full-tuition grant. While at Stanford, she gave the West Coast Premier of Roger Sessions’ Piano Concerto. She has given countless recitals in the United States and abroad, and has been the featured soloist in concerti of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, Martinu, Hindemith, Barber and others. She has performed virtually the entire standard chamber music repertoire. Her recordings include performances of the Thomas Beversdorf Cello Sonata, the Brahms Trio, Op. 87, and Ravel’s Violin-Piano Sonate. Miss Thompson has performed in chamber music concerts in Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center; the 92nd Street “Y” in New York City; the Philip’s Gallery, Washington D.C.; Boston’s Symphony Hall; Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco; and in the Teatro Nacional, San Jose, Costa Rica. In the 1980s she was the pianist member of the Chamber Soloists of San Francisco and the San Francisco Trio. At the present time Miss Thompson is the pianist of the Navarro Trio, a group which performs frequently throughout the Bay Area. Marilyn Thompson has taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; the College of Holy Names, Oakland, California; at the University of California at Santa Cruz; and is presently on the faculty of Sonoma State University where she has taught since 1976.

Jill Rachuy Brindel has been a cellist with the San Francisco Symphony since 1980 and a co-founder and member of Trio Navarro since 1992. This ensemble was hailed as “the premier trio of  Northern California” by Classical Sonoma.  Ms. Brindel studied at Indiana University and Chicago Musical College and was formerly Assistant Principal Cellist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, Principal Cellist of the Mendocino Music Festival for its first six years, cellist for the Navarro Quartet and a member of the Houston Symphony. She has performed chamber music at Kohl Mansion, the Russian River Chamber Festival, Old First Church, the Ralston Chamber Series and Chamber Music Sundaes.  In 2006 she returned to the Mendocino Music Festival as Principal Cellist and chamber soloist and in 2009 she became co-director of the Emerging Artists Program at the festival.  Ms. Brindel actively promotes the music of her late father, composer Bernard Brindel.  She is  a private instructor of cello as well as the coach for the cello section of the SFS Youth Orchestra. Ms. Brindel has given seminars on audition techniques to students at the University of Nevada at Reno and the New World Symphony. 

Violinist Victor Romasevich was born in Minsk, Belarus. His mother, Lena Lubotsky, began teaching him piano at the age of four. When five, he started violin studies with Anna Silberstein. At six, he enrolled in the violin class of Mikhail Garlitsky and Lev Sharinov at The Gnesin Music School in Moscow. As a youth he studied violin with Rostislav Dubinsky of the Borodin Quartet. He continued his training at the Moscow Conservatory with Boris Belenky and Nadia Beshkina. Following his emigration to the United States in 1977, he studied at Juilliard with Ivan Galamian. In 1979 he became a violin and viola pupil of the composer and philosopher Iosif Andriasov. Winner of the Gina Bachauer Prize at the 1985 J.S. Bach International Competition, Mr. Romasevich joined the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra as Associate Principal Violist in 1990, and in 1992 moved to the First Violin section. He appears frequently in recitals and chamber concerts as a violinist, violist, and keyboard player.

Violist Nancy Ellis attended Oberlin College and graduated from Mills College, where she studied with Nathan Rubin. She attended the Marlboro Music Festival, was a founding member of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Ensemble. She has performed at the Telluride, Cheltenham, Ojai, and Marlboro Music Festivals, and with the Chamber Soloists of San Francisco. She has been a member of San Francisco Symphony since 1973.

Choral conductor and lyric soprano Carol Menke began her musical studies at the piano with her mother at age five, and at age eight started flute lessons.  She entered college with aspirations of a career as a flautist.  However, participation in a voice class led to recognition of her superb vocal gifts.  Study with Professor Gwen Curatilo nurtured Carol's appreciation of the glorious lieder repertoire.  Following graduation from CSU, Chico, attendance at the Franz Schubert Institute in Baden Bei Wien, Austria, confirmed her passion for the Art Song genre.  The young singer was heard in performance many times at the Schuberthaus in Vienna during this period of study with Elly Ameling, Jorg Demus and Norman Shetler.  Ms. Menke later completed her Master's Degree in Vocal Performance.  She studied with Alden Gilchrist for many years and credits her cherished mentor with her extensive knowledge of the Art Song repertoire.  Her performances have won the accolades of music critics and orchestral conductors who have commented on her "silvery bright ... illuminating voice" and "appealing sweetness of tone."  Her repertoire is vast, covering works extending from medieval times to the present; and her expertise in performing difficult, diversified repertoire has made her the soloist of choice for many composers and conductors.  Upon hearing her perform one of his newly composed chamber works, the renowned composer Alan Hovhaness acknowledged and praised her "perfect musicianship." Carol maintains a full schedule as teacher and choral conductor in addition to solo engagements. At Santa Rosa Junior College she teaches voice and music theory classes.  The Santa Rosa Children's Chorus has thrived and achieved high praise during Ms. Menke's tenure as Artistic Director.  Her leadership of the St. Cecilia Choir at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa as well as Cantiamo Sonoma, a distinguished chamber choral ensemble, has served to enrich the musical environment of the area.

Julie McKenzie is Principal Flutist of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Piccoloist of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, positions which she has held since 1991. She is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Lloyd Gowen. Other teachers have included Julius Baker, Paul Renzi, Peter Lloyd, and Keith Underwood. Ms. McKenzie has participated as a fellow in the Berkshire Music Festival at Tanglewood and has been a soloist at the Carmel Bach Festival and Mendocino Music Festival. She was featured in a CBC television documentary with Jean-Pierre Rampal and has recorded for New Albion and Teldec Records, among others. She is on the flute faculty of the University of California at Berkeley. Julie resides in San Francisco with her husband, bassist Ken Miller, and their son Sammy.


PROGRAM NOTES – November 24

Piano Quartet in A minor, Op. 31
Georgy Catoire (1861-1926) is generally considered the father of Russian modernism. Catoire was born in Moscow to a French noble family which had emigrated to Russia in the early 19th century. Although fascinated by music, he studied mathematics and science at the University of Moscow, graduating in 1884. After graduation he decided to devote himself to music. His early compositions showed the influence of Tchaikovsky, who described Catoire as talented but in need of serious training. Eventually Catoire was to study composition with Rimsky-Korsakov, Lyadov, Arensky and Taneyev. In 1916, he was appointed professor of composition at the Moscow Conservatory, a position he held for the rest of his life.

Catoire wrote several treatises on music theory which became the foundation for the teaching of music theory in Russia. His compositional style was a synthesis of Russian, German and French influences, including Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Franck, Debussy and Wagner. From them, Catoire developed a highly personal and original idiom. Catoire’s championing of Wagner is partially responsible for the fact that his works are relatively unknown today. Rimsky-Korsakov's circle disliked Wagner's music intensely and did little to promote it. This resulted in its being barely known in Russia.  

Georgy Catoire's Piano Quartet was composed in 1916 and is the last of his five major works for chamber ensemble. The Piano Quartet, like his other chamber works, is quite individualistic and original sounding. The opening movement, Allegro moderato, begins softly with an attractive melody veiled in the aura of mysticism. The music quickly becomes rather dramatic and creates a sustained sense of tension. The mood of the second movement, Andante, is subdued and dreamy. The finale, Allegro molto, conjures up a modern vision of elves, sorcerers and fairies.

"When the entire world lost a sense of harmony, composer Iosif Andriasov has not only not lost this sense, but added to harmony a new quality.”
­—Dmitry Shostakovich

Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 7
Iosif Andriasov (1933-2000) wrote the Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano in 1957 while studying composition at the Music College of the Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky State Conservatory. He dedicated the Trio to Grant Aramovich Grigorian, who was Mr. Andriasov’s first composition teacher. The premiere took place in 1958 with Evgeny Smirnov, violin; Igor Koorkin, cello; and Irina Shlykova, piano, at the Malyi Hall of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. Since that time, the Trio has received numerous performances in the former Soviet Union. Andriasov revised the work in 1971 and it had its US premiere at the 1979 Newport Music Festival, RI, with Dmitry Sitkovetsky, violin; Jeffrey Solow, cello; and Thomas Hrynkiv, piano. Violinist Victor Romasevich, a former student of Iosif Andriasov, has performed the Trio at locations around the San Francisco Bay area.

The Trio is a dramatic composition in three movements. It opens with a resolute theme in B minor, played by violin and cello in unison over the piano’s restrained chordal progression. The cello enters with a passionate, stormy theme in C minor, accompanied by the agitated passages of the piano. The second theme is tranquil and dreamy in G major, played by the piano. The violin takes over, its melody soaring into the upper register of the instrument with pastoral motives of oriental color. In the development section, both themes are vigorously elaborated. In the recapitulation, the main theme returns to its original key, C minor, while the second theme is stated in E major. The movement ends with a fiery coda.

The second movement is a poetic Andante, written in ABA form. The violin is given a broad and flowing tune over chords in the piano; the middle section is turbulent in nature. In the reprise,  the lyrical content intensifies with the return of a lyrical theme from the first movement.

The Finale begins without a break. It is written in three–part form, combining the rhythmic energy and forward drive of a classical scherzo with the dimensions of a symphonic finale. The first theme in C major is objective and meticulously organized, in contrast with more spontaneous middle section in E major, and later with a passionate motive from the first movement in C minor. The recapitulation leads to a majestic, exalted coda, which is built on various combinations of all of the Trio’s themes. Suddenly, C minor returns. A colorful bell-like motive played by the violin is followed by a powerful progression of chords in the piano that bring the music to a halt: after a general pause, a short phrase in C minor, unison, concludes the piece.

From notes by Marta Andriasova-Kudryashova.


Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47
The composer, pianist and music critic Robert Schumann (1810-1856) composed his Piano Quartet for violin, viola, cello and piano in 1842, right after having completed three string quartets, a piano trio, and the iconic piano quintet – also in the key of E-flat – for piano, two violins, viola and cello. This flurry of creativity came to be called Schumann’s Year of Chamber Music. During the previous year he was occupied with symphonic music, including two symphonies and the Piano Concerto in A Minor, a trend-setting piece that advanced the career of his brilliant pianist-wife, Clara.

After their über-romantic courtship and honeymoon gave way to the realities of professional life, Schumann realized that, at least in the public’s eyes, he was the less-appreciated half of the Dynamic Schumann Duo. While Clara toured Europe in early 1842, Robert stayed home to study Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, and assuage his broken ego with “beer and champagne.” Perhaps the self-imposed seclusion was just what he needed to take his music to a deeper level. He yearned to write opera, but his greatest successes have been his songs, piano pieces and mixed chamber works.

 The Gagliano Ensemble writes: “The influence of Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn is obvious in the way Schumann pays special attention to the form and unity of this work. The slow sostenuto material introduced at the beginning demarcates the different sections of the opening movement. It also serves as the basis for the allegro which follows. The scherzo clearly shows the influence of Mendelssohn, in its light sparkling, undulating imitation, shaped by the bass line of the piano. The slower trios are more quintessentially Schumannesque, melding seamlessly with the quicker material. The curt ending of the movement, in the style of the “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” is another “hats off” to his good friend. The Andante is a poignant, tender melody exchanged between the different instruments. This material is varied only slightly. The delicate coda brings this warm, noble movement to a close. The final three chords anticipate the opening of the finale and provide material for the Vivace, in which this simple pattern is subject to a vigorous “working out” in fugato style. This material is contrasted with a smoother second theme. This movement, perhaps more than any of others demonstrates the unrestrained emotional drive that we associate with the composer.”




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