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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...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
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.