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Chamber
PERFORMER AS PROMOTER: CLARA SCHUMANN AND MUSICAL SALONS CLOSE VOM FESTIVAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 28, 2019
The July 28 closing performance of the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival could have been subtitled "Friends", as it was devoted to works by both Clara and Robert Schumann, and those of their friends and protégés Brahms and virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim, with whom Clara toured extensively...
Chamber
ROMANTIC CHAMBER WORKS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 27, 2019
Now in its 5th season the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented July 27 a concert titled “My Brilliant Sister,” featuring Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s compositions for combinations of voice, fortepiano and strings. Fanny and her brother Felix were close, and Felix occasionally published ...
Symphony
ROMANTIC DREAMS AT THE MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kayleen Asbo
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Romanticism, contrary to many popular perceptions, wasn’t simply about diving into the habitat of the heart. Romanticism began as a literary movement that elevated the power of nature as a transcendent force and sought with keen nostalgia to rediscover the wisdom of the past. The Romantics in both l...
Chamber
CHAUSSON CONCERTO SHINES IN A VISIONARY'S SALON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Ernest Chausson’s four-movement Concerto in D Major for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet (1891) is neither concerto nor sonata nor symphony, but it somehow manages to be all three, especially when played with fire and conviction by an accomplished soloist. Those incendiary and emotional elements w...
Chamber
EUROPEAN SALON MUSIC CAPTIVATES AT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Two stunning programs of 19th and 20th century chamber music were presented on July 21 and 28 as part of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival at the Hanna Center in Sonoma. Festival founders and directors pianist Eric Zivian and cellist Tanya Tompkins were both on hand to contribute brilliantly at ...
Chamber
ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL COMBINATIONS IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 20, 2019
A Lovely summer afternoon in Sonoma Valley, an excellent small concert hall, enthusiastic audience, exciting musicians and creative programming with interesting story lines. All these were combined July 20 at a Valley of the Moon Festival concert titled “An Italian in Paris.” This is the fifth seaso...
Opera
'ELIXIR' A WELCOME TONIC IN SPRIGHTLY ANNUAL MMF OPERA
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 19, 2019
In most of the Mendocino Music Festival’s 33 seasons a single evening is given over to a staged opera, with bare bones sets, lighting, costumes, minimal cast and short length. No Wagner or Verdi here, no multiple acts and complicated production demands. Light and frothy are the usual, and so it wa...
Recital
PUNGENT WALTZES AND VIRTUOSITY IN LADEUR'S SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
San Francisco based pianist Jeffrey LaDeur has become one of the most sought-after North Bay virtuosi, and cemented that reputation July 17 in a short but eclectic recital in Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village Chamber Music Series. Before 140 in the Village’s auditorium Mr. LaDeur began with Schubert...
Choral and Vocal
NOBLE BRAHMS REQUIEM PERFORMANCE CLOSES SONOMA BACH'S SEASON
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 01, 2019
Sonoma Bach, conducted by Robert Worth, presented a truly grand finale to their 2018-19 "Light Out of Darkness" season in two sold out Schroeder Hall performances June 1 and 2. The program "A Human Requiem" was received rapturously with a well-deserved standing ovation for the main work, Brahms' ...
Chamber
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six song...
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!