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Recital
HOME RECITAL BACH COMPLETES HOLIDAY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 30, 2017
The just closing 2017 year was a calamity for many, but locally in music there were joys galore, and it was fitting Dec. 30 have the balm of two Bach’s violin sonatas in a private Guerneville home recital hosted by the eminent musician Sonia Tubridy. Violinist Richard Heinberg joined Ms. Tubridy in...
Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE WITH SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
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...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Santa Rosa Symphony / Saturday, January 22, 2011
Enrique Diemecke, conductor
Sharon Isbin, guitar

Spanish Composer Joaquin Rodrigo

DYNAMIC DIEMECKE LEADS BOUYANT RODRIGO AND DISSONANT CHÁVEZ AT SYMPHONY CONCERT

by Robin Brown
Saturday, January 22, 2011

A nearly full house of Santa Rosa Symphony concert goers wildly applauded guest conductor Enrique Arturo Diemecke Jan. 22 at Wells Fargo Center. Piazzola's “Tangazo” stood out as the most enjoyable score of the evening, and the final concert the set Jan. 24 is recommended.

Mr. Diemecke uses his whole body in conducting, including a close golpe (flat foot beat) and his entertaining signature "Ta-Dah" with arms extended laterally. He mimed a bowing violin and once used only fingertips to close an exciting pianissimo. Undoubtedly in demand for operas, Mr. Diemecke is a baton-less dancer, sexy in the most loveable, music-marriageable sense. His downbeat rarely has a bottom so players must carefully listen to each other. Surprisingly the conductor’s unique podium techniques were effective because the Symphony sounded even better than when I heard it last season, and his infectious zeal goes beyond conducting.

Women guitar soloists are rarissimo and I recall with sadness the guitar virtuoso Ida Presti's early death. The concert’s soloist for this evening, Sharon Isbin, was tastelessly advertised and attired in quasi country and western glitz. She came, saw but did not conquer because Mr. Diemecke led the Symphony to a peak performance, easily stealing the whole concert limelight. Ms. Isbin is a good professional guitarist but her nylon-strung classical guitar's modest voice can't compete with an orchestra tutti so she required directional microphone amplification. She won the audience in the Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez but, lacking of awareness or taste, Ms. Isbin chose to encore and to verbally pitch her CD lobby-sales and play a folksy arpeggio in an on-and-on solo encore. People applauded but not as enthusiastically as after the lovely, accessible Rodrigo masterwork. In the Concierto Ms. Isbin played well but lacked the incisive rasqueado strum of flamenco master accompanists. One closing rasgueado was actually zesty. Rodrigo is one of Spain's famous regional folk-music-inspired composers and has stated that his lovely, melancholic Adagio movement was born of his great love for his wife who at the time of composition was hospitalized in Paris. The royal castle garden in Aranjuez was their honeymoon site and Rodrigo became partially sighted at an early age and created mostly Braille music scores.

Ms. Isbin's performance technique confirms Andrés Segovia's advocacy of footstool under supporting leg, guitar-neck angled up to favor fingering wrist, both hands and finger positions. The great Spanish guitarist opened the world market for solo guitar classics by playing his many fine transcriptions, improving fingerings and encouraging composers. He encouraged, fingered and premiered in San Francisco a second Rodrigo guitar concerto, one of three he wrote from 1966 to 1982. One of Ms. Isbin's teachers, Oscar Ghiglia (of Rome), played his first Berkeley solo concert after assisting Segovia in the UC Berkeley Guitar Master Class.

The opening Suomalainen Tango by Pablo Ortíz (from Buenos Aires, 1956) remains a mystery to me. The composer who was in the audience stood to acknowledge the applause which then grew louder. Perhaps the orchestra players lacked rehearsal time for the Tango's counter-accents, but later they executed counter-accents well in the Piazzolla Tangazo (big tango) for Orchestra, also known as Variations on Buenos Aries. This was the highlight of the concert - bright, full of delightful surprises, a musician's joy by another of Argentina's sterling musicians! In the Rodrigo the Adagio movement competed favorably in execution.

Closing the concert was Chávez' Symphony No. 4, Sinfonía Romántico, a 21-minute work from 1953. This was a very late-romantic, highly dissonant, dense and darkly puzzling score. Mr. Diemecke, from Mexico, has often conducted this piece and drove his interpretation with a force that Chávez would have appreciated. The composer moved to New York after building “Sinfonía Nacional” and eventually heading the national conservatory in Mexico City where he had originally studied. Did this Chávez work presage a more violent Mexico? This Symphony concert and my questions close on a troubled note.

Robin Brown is Music Director of Santa Rosa’s Flamenco Arts, has taught guitar at the San Francisco Conservatory and Chico State University, and studied guitar with Alilio Díaz.