Home  Reviews  Articles  Calendar  Presenters  Add Event     
Chamber
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Marin Symphony / Sunday, January 31, 2010
Alasdair Neale, conductor
Vadim Gluzman, violin
Helene Zindarsian, soprano
Anna Jablonski, mezzo soprano
Corey Head, tenor
Jeffrey Fields, baritone
Marin Symphony Chorus

Vadim Gluzman, violin

MARIN FORCES TACKLE MOZART REQUIEM AND BRAHMS VIOLIN CONCERTO

by Kenn Gartner
Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Upon entering the Marin Civic Center Auditorium Feb. 2 the reviewer was greeted by the spectacle of the chorus warming up on stage. Did Frank Lloyd Wright not provide a choral room? The distinguishing characteristic of this warm up was that not one singer managed to hit the high notes despite the sincere athletic gesticulations of the choral conductor. This was regrettable, for the sopranos often pushed for the A’s and occasional B flats in an exceedingly ugly fashion. As a voice matures, it darkens, and what could be done earlier in life becomes difficult with age. The vocalise being used, though probably of value for individual singers, is not as good a warm up as are exercises actually designed for a chorus. It certainly did not do its job: throughout the Mozart Requiem, K. 626, whenever the soprano section approached these high pitches, there was a push, an additional “h,” an “oomph” of a sort which lent unfortunate percussive qualities to the vocal line. The fact that pitch has risen steadily since Mozart’s time does not help. Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis would be difficult for this chorus.

This preview of things to come permitted us to hear the rather dead space of this auditorium: remarkable architecture, lousy acoustics. The Marin Symphony’s brilliance, and it was often brilliant during this performance, was swallowed by the deadening quality of the space.

A near full house heard this second performance of the set of two of Mozart’s ultimate work, and regrettably there was a dearth of persons younger than 50. Perhaps one or two per cent, but probably, as Tuesday is a school night, the young were doing homework.

Alasdair Neale, conductor of the Marin Symphony, really knows his stuff. Some weeks ago, I reviewed an oratorio where the conductor avoided looking at the orchestra for the first half of the program. In this concert, Mr. Neale vainly cued and directed the choral ensemble, but with little effect or result. Possibly the chorus set up, combined with the Marin Center’s acoustics, had something to do with the quality of the performance. The chorus was lined up, from stage right: soprano, alto, tenor and bass. While this somewhat archaic layout is perfect for this work (allowing the chorus to follow the compositional line quite accurately) it is not helpful to the choral music performance. Musicians generally agree the bass line is the most important line, particularly in regard to the harmonic structure of a work and so chorus members find it easier to remain in tune when they can hear the bass part while singing their own. In this instance, the basses were far from the sopranos who could have used the bass support. There were some strange articulations emanating from the chorus, and for example, the top notes of the scale passages in the “Osanna” section of Sanctus were accented and therefore bordered on the unmusical. These scales start with an agogic accent! Additional accents are both superfluous and examples of poor musicianship. Time would have been better spent fixing the ragged entrances and observing the rests in the Lacrimosa.

Program annotator Jon Kochavi gave an excellent précis, including information with which I was unfamiliar, including that the use of trombones was consistent in operatic works with descents into Hell. The trombone makes its official entrance into the symphony orchestra in the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. So, if Mr. Kochavi’s writings are accurate, considering the huge part that the three trombones have in the Requiem, might Mozart have assumed his customer’s wife, or Mozart himself, was destined for the lower reaches? It gives one pause.

Soprano Helene Zindarsian was slightly under pitch on her opening note and perhaps she was nervous or under the weather, as this occurred at other times. Tenor Corey Head and baritone Jeffrey Fields did nicely, again considering the lack of good acoustics. However, mezzo Anna Jablonski’s voice and technique shone like limelight throughout the entire house. Her voice seemed made for these environs: clear, defined, magical. Brava! The Symphony administration ran out of programs, distributing some dozens of quickly copied programettes. Thus, I was unable to cite some outstanding orchestra members deserving praise. Suffice to say, the alto trombonist should have taken a bow!

The structure and size of Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77, make it a veritable symphony for the violin, and its complexities are that similar. Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman did an outstanding job with this monster. Although his tempi may have been more attenuated than Stern or Menhuin, he played with conviction and carried his audience to a true standing ovation! Again, the hall’s poor acoustic environment prevented us from hearing the results of some magnificent violin technique. I would have loved to have heard the results of Mr. Gluzman’s extraordinary sautille and martellato. I saw a lot of action but heard little sound.

I am not a great fan of the standing ovation or what seems to be the majority of a modern audience’s understanding of a standing ovation. For starters, a standing ovation is one in which a performance is so exciting that at the instant the work is finished, one jumps to his feet in excitement! It is not a slow creeping schlepping, standing up, taking several seconds, not starting to rise until a bit of time has elapsed since the last notes died away. And (this may come as a shock to some) not every performance deserves a standing ovation.

The program concluded with an encore by Mr. Gluzman and the Orchestra: an arrangement of a waltz from Gluck’s Orphéus and Eurydice. It was a superb study in piano, pianissimo, piano-pianissimo and pianissimo-pianissimo!