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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 / 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.