Each summer for the last eight years, pianist Roy Bogas has brough a group of his muscian friends to Gualala for a Summer Chamber Music Weekend. The two different concerts - one Saturday evening, the second Sunday afternoon - are always superb. But each year seems better than the last. This past weekend we heard two concerts that were masterpieces of programming and execution. On Saturday, Mozart was represented by a quintet for two violas and on Sunday by a piano quartet. There was an Elgar piano quintet on Saturday. And on Sunday a Brahms quintet for two violas. The added violist was Jonathon Vinocur, the new principal violist of the San Francisco Symphony. He is very young for such a position, but clearly has the talent and confidence for it. The two quintets were both robust and exquisite, led by violinist Axel Strauss and Vinocur. On Sunday, Vinocur and Bogas played a Schumann piece that allowed Vinocur's pure talent to shine. And on both Saturday and Sunday, Strauss and Bogas played three emotional selections from a Bloch suite that had some in the audience close to tears. Hard to believe that little Gualala can attract such world-class music, but it happens regularly.
In the time not spent setting up for the concerts and attending the concerts, we packed the Prius so we could start off on Phase II early this morning. The really good news is that we actually had enough space left over for my sister Harriett and her luggage. We met Harriett at San Jose and started north, overnighting in Willits. Tomorrow's feature will be the redwood forests between Willits and Crescent City.