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Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
American Philharmonic Sonoma County / Sunday, October 09, 2011
Tristan Arnold, conductor. Kenneth Renshaw, violin

Violinist Kenneth Renshaw

BERLIOZ'S SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE HIGHLIGHTS SPOOKY APSC CONCERT AT WELLS FARGO CENTER

by Nicki Bell
Sunday, October 09, 2011

The American Philharmonic Sonoma County is off to a rousing start of their new season, and the Oct. 9 at the Wells Center concert was a crowd pleaser. The afternoon’s theme was “Dark Shadows of Twilight.”

The orchestra played with clarity, passion and precision and the hall was more than two thirds full. Under the baton of guest conductor Tristan Arnold, a finalist in the APSC’s search for their next musical director, the orchestra sounded tight and focused, spanning a wide range of dynamics and textural color. Mr. Arnold, a former member of the APSC as principal bassist, provided clear and expressive leadership and was an engaging speaker in remarks to the audience.

As a Prelude to Halloween, the afternoon’s music was alternatively spooky and programmatic, with a little gypsy added to the mix. Mussorgsky’s “A Night on Bare Mountain” opened, a swirling darkness musically circling, whipping an army of spirits. With rich orchestration, the power of trumpets, French horns and trombones sounded against the fury of violins. Church bells (from timpanist Anthony Blake) heralded a lyrical section of peace with a beautiful clarinet solo floating above the string choir. This sonic fabric was echoed by first flutist Debra Ortega, with the harp climbing to the peace of the heavens leaving the audience with celestial vistas.

The next work, “Funeral March for a Marionette” by Gounod, brought Alfred Hitchcock’s memory back to Sonoma County. Clarinetist Steve Bergman’s solo lead in initiating the familiar steps of the March. The sections of the orchestra played off against each other, crisp, clear and colorful.

“Tzigane, Rhapsodie de Concert” of Ravel was a treat. Young Artist Award winner Kenneth Renshaw gave a passionate, rhapsodic and thoroughly virtuosic performance as violin soloist. A long cadenza opens the piece, the orchestra then emerging evoking exotic sounds, sometimes supporting, sometimes making fun of the violin. Cellos, violins, winds, harp, and bells each took a turn dancing and splashing colors over an excited audience. A standing ovation ended the first half.

After intermission Berlioz’s iconic Symphonie Fantastique built on the orchestral energy of the first half. As an episode in the life of an artist, it was inspired by a production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and the symphony from 1830 tells a story. There are five movements (Passions, A Ball, Scenes in the Field, March to the Scaffold and Dreams of a Witches’ Sabbath). The whole performance was a sweeping adventure with telling solos from Marie Vizcaino (English horn), John Lounsbery (French horn), Tuba (Floyd Reinhart), flute, clarinet, trumpets and harp. The musical sections flowed seamlessly one into the other with lovely duets between English horn and oboes, violas and violins.

The theme from the first movement (Reverie) winds through the following four, a dark refrain carried with suspense throughout all the orchestra, a pulsing march to the end.

The “Dark Shadows of Twilight” seemed to bring a lot of sunshine to the faces of both audience and orchestra alike, and a fitting beginning to a season that features a guest conductor at each of the five concerts.