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Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Recital
NOVACEK'S 2ND HALF TRIFECTA SCORES AT MENDO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Modern classical piano recitals are in two parts, with longer and perhaps more profound music proceeding perhaps shorter and usually stimulating lighter fare. In John Novacek’s July 13 Mendocino Music Festival recital the best playing came unexpectedly in the eight abbreviated works comprising the ...
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.