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Chamber
BEETHOVEN FEATURED IN SF TRIO'S OCCIDENTAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 19, 2020
Conventional repertoire in uncommonly good performances highlighted the San Francisco Piano Trio’s Jan. 19 concert in the Occidental Center for the Arts. Haydn’s No. 44 Trio (Hob. XV:28) came from late in his long career, when he was in and out of London, and received a sparkling reading that featu...
SIMONE PORTER ASPIRES TO STARDOM WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 12, 2020
The Sibelius violin concerto is one of several mountains that violin soloists need to ascend before they can lay claim to stardom. Hundreds make the attempt every year, but only a few reach the top. Simone Porter, who played the concerto with the Santa Rosa Symphony on Sunday afternoon, got close bu...
Choral and Vocal
ORPHEUS OF AMSTERDAM'S MUSIC IN SCHROEDER ORGAN CHORAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, January 10, 2020
“All over the map.” Sonoma Bach, directed by Bob Worth, has taken its audiences this season on journeys through many centuries and many lands. The programming is fresh and intriguing and the performers varied and creators of beauty and interest. The January 10 program was centered on organ works by...
Choral and Vocal
OLD NORTH GERMAN CAROLS IN SONOMA BACH'S SCHROEDER CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, December 15, 2019
“Cast off all sorrows…also dance in heavenly fashion.” A volume called Piae Cantiones was printed in 1582 in North Germany, lively songs going back to the 14th century, and this treasure trove provided material for numerous composers to arrange Christmas carols over following generations, from simp...
Symphony
EVERLASTING LIGHT AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Monday, December 09, 2019
The Mozart Requiem includes four intermittent vocal soloists, but the real star is the choir, which is featured in almost every movement. That stardom shone bright at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s memorable Requiem performance on Monday night. The soloists were good, but the choir was superb. Located wi...
Symphony
UNFINISHED AND FINNISH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 08, 2019
Having a new resident conductor on the podium for the Ukiah Symphony was an attractive invitation for a long-delayed visit to Mendocino College’s Center Theater Dec. 8. The insouciant Les Pfutzenreuter recently retired after decades of conducting the ensemble, replaced by Phillip Lenberg who also j...
Choral and Vocal
PRAERTORIUS IN RENAISSANCE GLORY FROM SONOMA BACH
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, November 16, 2019
Sonoma Bach Choir, in collaboration with Barefoot All-Stars Viol Consort and The Whole Noyse Brass Ensemble, presented “Sing Glorious Praetorius!” November 16 to an almost full Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. The Soloists were soprano Dianna Morgan, Christopher Fritzsche, (countertenor), m...
Symphony
ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL EXCITEMENT IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 16, 2019
Beginning with a scintillating reading of Rossini’s Overture to the Opera “Semiramide,” the Sonoma County Philharmonic performed a splendid program Nov. 16 in the Jackson Theater, and featured two additional works, one showcasing the winner of the San Francisco Conservatory’s Young Artist Award. It...
Chamber
SPIRITUAL LATE BEETHOVEN QUARTET HIGHLIGHTS MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 10, 2019
Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131, called “unparalleled in its inexhaustibility” by critic Thomas May, is a daunting challenge. Orchestral in concept, filled with wit and charm, melancholy and fury, it almost overwhelms listeners. Playing the frenetic Scherzo, a viol...
Symphony
MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANCE IN UNIQUE SRS CONCERT IN WEILL HALL
by Terry McNeill
Monday, November 04, 2019
It was a concert full of surprises Nov. 4 as the Santa Rosa Symphony responded to the area’s wild fires and evacuations with challenging, songful and somewhat unique music in Weill Hall. The last of a three-concert series titled "Master of the Modern Banjo" is reviewed here. The evening began with...
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.