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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 / Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Alasdair Neale, conductor
Orion Weiss, piano

Composer Pytor Tchaikovsky

WEISS TRIUMPHS IN ALL-TCHAIKOVSKY MARIN SYMPHONY OPENER

by John Metz
Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Marin Symphony’s Oct. 4 concert, a repeat performance of Sunday’s season opener at the Marin Center, was an exciting celebration of the great Russian Romantic Tchaikovsky.

As a prelude, conductor Alasdair Neale invited Dan Smith, a former member of the Marin Symphony Youth Orchestra, onstage to guest conduct Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever. It was a spritely rendition full of bombast and dramatic dynamic contrasts.

To open the concert proper, the symphony performed Tchaikovsky’s inspired orchestral fantasy Capriccio Italien. The trumpets, led by principal Carole Klein, executed the opening fanfare with great command. And emerging from the opening, the strings, under Mr. Neale’s clear and articulate direction, played a soulful Italian folk tune. Such inspiring Italian melodies are the centerpiece of Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio, a piece written during a brief stint in Rome after his failed marriage. The music explored a multitude of Rome-inspired themes, eventually returning to the opening strings melody, and finally catapulting into a frenzied tarantella which Mr. Neale and his orchestra handled with grace and finesse, thus bringing this fine work to an exciting and gratifying close.

The evening’s highlight was Orion Weiss’ performance of the First Piano Concerto in B-flat, Op. 23. Led by principal Darby Hinshaw, the horns performed the majestic opening with great command and gusto, heralding the entrance of a soaring melody accompanied by the famous leaping piano chords, which span all octaves of the keyboard. In the first movement’s frequent solo interludes and final cadenza, Weiss proved himself a formidable pianistic talent. The melodious second movement was charming, and its unexpected prestissimo posed no challenges for Weiss, whose rendition was lightning fast and graceful. Indeed, Mr. Weiss’s technical mastery was evident throughout the entire performance, though perhaps most evident in the bravura octave passage preceding the final statement of the third movement’s sweeping cantabile melody. Mr. Weiss took these octaves at breakneck speed, utterly unaffected by their technical difficulty and fully able to express the grandness and heroism of Tchaikovsky’s music. It was Mr. Weiss’ masterful pianism and refined artistry that made this an unforgettable concert.

The famous Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture opened serenely with clarinets and bassoons in a chorale, and during the introduction the orchestra performed with tenderness, though at times failed to line up with the Mr. Neale’s downbeats. As tensions built, the opening erupted into the Montague-Capulet feud theme. The horns, who throughout the night delivered an exceptional performance, displayed here more fantastic playing. And the unforgettable love theme, played first by English horn and then restated in the strings, had the audience swooning. The piece ended with a funeral march and requiem in which the violins played the love theme one last time, but this time as a bittersweet remembrance. The orchestra’s rendition of this coda was nothing short of tear-jerking.

As a fitting finale to this Tchaikovsky commemoration, the 1812 Overture was performed. Here they pulled out all the stops to deliver a heroic and thunderous event finale. And it was quite the workout for the brass section, which performed admirably. Tchaikovsky uses the French and Russian Empire national anthems to depict the 1812 military conflict. Eventually the Russian anthem “God Save the Tsar” wins over La Marseillaise, bringing the work to the final boisterous coda, celebrating the Russian victory. Or in the context of this performance, celebrating the genius of the composer. Mr. Neale and his orchestra were unrestrained in this booming and exhilarating finale which had the audience enthralled and utterly captivated.

It all seemed to prove that with Tchaikovsky you can never have too much of a good thing.