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Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
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!