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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 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...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Occidental Center for the Arts / Sunday, January 13, 2013
Santa Rosa Chamber Orchestra, Nicholas Xenelis, conductor. Norma Brown, piano; Jeff Chan, clarinet; Valerie Marshall, cello; Daniel Celidore, oboe; Paul Hadley, horn; Miranda Kincaid, bassoon; Christopher Fritzsche, countertenor

Nick Xenelis, Dan Celidore, Miranda Kinkaid, Paul Hadley and Jeffrey Chan

JAN. 13 OCCIDENTAL AND GUERNEVILLE PROGRAMS OPEN RIVER CONCERT SEASON

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 13, 2013

Russian River’s winter concert season began Jan. 13 with two events at nearly the same location and time, both programs packed with abundant vocal qualities.

Sonia Tubridy’s River Choir performed their annual Winterfest concert in the Guerneville Community Church before 30 ardent listeners. The 12-member choir, diminished from their usual number because of illness, began with a series of short works of Susato, Mozart, Andrejs Jansons, Schubert and Bach.

Director Tubridy did extra duty at the piano and even used a small rhythmic drum in Pietro Yon’s "Gesu Bambino." First-half soloists included Kathrin Williams, Lois Pearlman, Jean Ashley and Tom Lowrie.

The balance of the concert was not heard due to a short drive to Occidental for the Santa Rosa Chamber Orchestra’s concert in the town’s cozy Performing Arts Center. A warm beginning was offered in the opening Clarinet Trio of Brahms, Op. 114, with pianist Norma Brown, clarinetist Jeffrey Chan and cellist Valerie Marshall. In each of the four movements, the players highlighted the innate lyricism of the work from Brahms’ last period.

Norma Brown is an old friend to this trio. She played with a subdued approach, probably because of the vacuous sound of the instrument she was given, and the composer’s generally autumnal writing. I suspect it’s also the way she perceives the piece, and her colleagues followed suit. Mr. Chan spun lovely phrases in the beginning Allegro and subsequent Adagio, and Ms. Marshall, overcoming some intonation and upper register difficulties, played with a flowing and full bottom register. At times the clarinet covered the other instruments, but after all it’s a clarinet work. The unison playing in the closing Allegro was bracing, and the ensemble tidy.

Counterenor Christopher Fritzsche joined consummate oboist Daniel Celidore in selections from Vaughn Williams’ "Ten Blake Songs for High Voice," written a year before the composer’s death in 1958. Beginning with "The Lamb," the interplay between the somber oboe line and the airy, occasionally melismatic singing was captivating. Often the two parts were far apart harmonically, the oboe playing seemingly giving no direct assistance to the singer. There are echoes here of the opera "Riders to the Sea." The monochromatic nature of the high vocal part, in Mr. Fritzsche’s deliberately sparse phrasing, had a bit of menace. "A Poison Tree," "Ah! Sunflower," "Eternity" and "The Piper" were the final songs, the last the most jaunty.

Conductor Nicholas Xenelis’ 19-member Santa Rosa Chamber Orchestra somehow found room on the small stage and concluded the concert with Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn and Orchestra, K. 297b. Throughout the three-movement work, Mr. Xenelis favored leisurely tempos. The opening Allegro, with its numerous repeated expositions, tended to the deliberate. The conductor focused his attention on control of dynamics to exemplary effect, eliciting excellent ensemble in a sporadically scrappy orchestra sound, and his deference to the four soloists was deft. Mozart’s masterful writing for winds was everywhere in evidence, and the conductor was in total command, rarely looking at the score before him.

In addition to Mr. Celidore, the soloists included Mr. Chan, bassoonist Miranda Kinkaid and hornist Paul Hadley. The pungent clarinet and oboe parts in this hall tended to overpower the upper strings (though not Bill Fouty’s sonorous bass playing), and the E Flat tonality in the entire piece brought continuity and delectable long phrases to the thematic material. Under Mr. Xenelis’ paced direction the music was iterative, but it never meandered.

In the 10-variation finale, the virtuosity of the solo quartet shone, especially the discourse of clarinet and oboe, resulting in a standing ovation from the 125 in attendance. Proceeds from the concert benefited the Performing Arts Center.