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Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Recital
PIANISTIC COMMAND IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, October 08, 2017
Nikolay Khozyainov’s Oct. 8 debut at the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall was one of those rare moments in a young artist’s career when a performance approaches perfection. From the opening notes of Beethoven’s A-Flat Major Sonata (Op. 110) through a delightful recital ending transcription, the ...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
American Philharmonic, Sonoma County / Sunday, May 10, 2009
Gabriel Sakakeeny, conducting

Conductor Gabriel Sakakeeny

TWO PREMIERES AT APSC TENTH SEASON GALA

by Larry Flor
Sunday, May 10, 2009

The American Philharmonic Sonoma County presented their tenth season gala concert May 9 and 10 at the Wells Fargo Center, an event to celebrate a unique and accomplished performing arts organization. Most of the APSC musicians are advanced amateurs who volunteer their time to bring classical music to Sonoma County, including the work of musical director and primary conductor, Gabriel Sakakeeny. To celebrate a decade of innovative music making, the performances included two world premieres, a pianist new to the concerto performance arena, and the combined choirs of the Santa Rosa Symphonic Chorus under director Dan Earl, and the Santa Rosa Junior College Concert Choir with Jody Benecke directing.

The concert began with the world premiere of Pentangle by local composer Charles Sepos. Although a one-movement opus, the work had three distinct sections: Moderato, Andante, and Allegro. The highlight was the Andante, where the composer built forward momentum to set up the concluding Allegro. The first section was not memorable, and the Andante had deft moments but seemed overly long for the material at hand. At times the momentum was affected by uncertainty of instrumental entrances and thinness of orchestration, though perhaps the latter was the composer’s intention to depict transparency. Entrances and intonation were difficult for the brass section, but Pentangle was remarkable in its ability to project contrasts among strings and winds.

Concluding the first half was Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto in B Flat, Op. 23, with soloist Slade Trammell. A recent graduate of the University of Tennessee, Trammell was making his first performance on stage with an orchestra in the familiar three-movement Concerto, written in 1875. One cannot help but hear comparisons with so many recordings, and the volcanic interpretations by Horowitz and Argerich come to mind. Trammell demonstrated that he possesses the equipment to handle such a work, but the tempos he selected were safe, and there where spots where he was not in sync with the orchestra. Glances between soloist and conductor were noticeable. Intonation was again a problem in the lower strings, especially after the solo cadenza in the first movement. It was a good performance but a little pedantic, lacking the passion and intensity one expects to hear in a work with such soaring themes and thunderous orchestration. Trammell followed the Concerto with an encore, “Mexican Hat Dance,” arranged by his current teacher Earl Wild. The encore had rhythmic excitement.

The second half opened with another world premiere, Sakakeeny’s “The Lion and the Rose,” with mezzo-soprano soloist Jennifer Panara and the two combined choirs. It was led by guest conductor John Kendall Bailey. This was definitely a treat and a pity that it will be some time before it will be heard again. The piece grabs your attention from the opening through the skillful use of color, phrases and rhythm, and it keeps your attention throughout. It was not always easy to understand the words of the soloist due to the muddled acoustics in the Wells Fargo Center, but the music would have been understood in any language. Bravo to Sakakeeny’s opus, Bailey’s conducting, the orchestra and the choirs.

The concert ended with Ravel’s Suite No. 2 from Daphnis et Chloe, from 1912, conducted by Sakakeeny. Originally a ballet of an hour’s duration, Ravel extracted two richly hued suites. The orchestra seemed to find its stride during the second half. Gone were the inconsistencies of the opening segments, and Sakakeeny conducted with a firm grasp of the Ravel’s intentions. The orchestra responded in the “Danse Generale” with powerful sonority. The flute playing was particularly vivid, and balances were adroit.

The APSC has lots to celebrate after 10 years, as it is professional in every way, and a distinct service to the North Bay community.