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Chamber
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 08, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
Choral and Vocal
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
Chamber
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
Chamber
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
Chamber
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 09, 2020
The Feb. 9 performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony offered a healthy dose of 21st century music firmly bound to the 19th. Matt Browne’s first symphony, “The Course of Empire”—based on a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School of American painting in the 1820s—emp...
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 02, 2020
Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert. In his eighth conducting season with the So C...
Symphony
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 01, 2020
The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, gave a concert of enormous energy and emotional impact on Feb.1 to a small audience in Weill Hall. This orchestra has been a major cultural force in Poland since 1949, playing under many renowned conductors and has been committed to pr...
Opera
EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT
by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 2020
“Beautiful, strange, and unnatural…” said orchestra conductor Thomas Conlin when speaking of the tenor voice. One of the coveted voice types of the opera world, the tenor voice is known for it’s piercing tones and soaring, unnatural high notes. The iconic image of the Pagliacci clown (in the famed...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Marin Symphony / Tuesday, May 05, 2009
A Tribute to Aaron Copland
Alasdair Neale, conductor

Conductor Michael Morgan

LOUD AND BRASSY COPLAND IN MARIN

by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Aaron Copland’s orchestral scores are so familiar as to seem old-shoe, even when his not-so-familiar Third Symphony dominates a program. Such was the case May 5 when the Marin Symphony performed an all-Copland concert in the Civic Auditorium in San Rafael.

The novel part of the program was at the podium, where seasoned East Bay conductor Michael Morgan substituted for the symphony’s ailing music director, Alasdair Neale. Nothing in the “Hoedown” from Rodeo or in the perennially satisfying suite from Appalachian Spring fazed Morgan, who led a thoroughly controlled performance characterized by moderate tempos and accomplished brass and wind sections.

“Hoedown” is a three-and-a-half minute romp that ends with a grand fanfare. It had all the pizzazz of a proper opening work. In contrast, the very slow beginning of Appalachian Spring exuded romanticism. Morgan’s beat was consistently clear and effective in balancing sections. Arthur Austin’s clarinet playing was elegant and frequently a gorgeous duo partner with other winds, the signature triad figure paced perfectly throughout. Trumpets (especially Cale Cumings) and trombones also thrived in the composer’s nostalgic harmonies and long-lined phrases, and percussionist Kevin Neuhoff was masterful.

At intermission, at least half of the large complement of musicians stayed on stage, madly rehearsing for the long Copland Symphony No. 3, which occupied the entire second half. The symphony, from 1946, demands a lot from musicians, and it is filled with echoes of Shostakovich and Mahler. Throughout the performance, Morgan evoked the expansive score’s dignity and heroism, but he never lost sight of delicate phrase endings in the string sections. He was in no hurry at any time, the tempos giving heft rather than edgy momentum.

Copland’s symphony is filled with loud, demanding music, as evidenced by the trumpets (played here by Principal Scott Macomber and James Rodseth), which lead contrapuntal lines and simply blaze away. In the final Molto deliberato some of the precision brass duos were not quite in sync, but perhaps stamina was at issue rather than any lack of musical commitment.

Special praise needs to go to Morgan and the violins for the lovely and seamless transition from the third to fourth movements. They proceeded deftly from often spare and ambiguous harmonies to the jazzy rhythms of the finale, a part crammed with more loud brass, wood-block syncopations and the familiar Fanfare for the Common Man theme. The orchestra moved through the two key changes and resounding percussion parts with aplomb.

The lengthy symphony didn’t seem long under Morgan’s deft direction, and the orchestra played with great energy, well deserving the standing ovation from a sonically overwhelmed but obviously thrilled audience.