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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...
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 REVIEW
San Francisco Symphony / Thursday, January 31, 2013
Charles Dutoit, conductor. James Ehenes, violin

Conductor Charles Dutoit

LALO AND ELGAR WORKS HEARD IN SFS CONCERT IN WEILL

by Kenn Gartner
Thursday, January 31, 2013

Brilliant! That is the only word to convey the musicality, sound, and the panache the San Francisco Symphony achieved Jan. 31 in Weill Hall with of guest conductor Charles Dutoit. The sound extant during this balanced program was spectacular, and I have rarely heard such substantial fortes, ones which I had almost to cover my ears!

While the Hall’s Choral Circle’s seats were completely filled, the main section’s seats were half empty, a condition which allowed the Weill’s acoustics greater animation, despite the lowering the sound absorbing “window shades” along the walls.

Ravel’s Rhapsodie Espagnole was first on the program. Often conductors run the movements together, but Mr. Dutoit spaced the parts with a short pause between. A descending four-note motif, which appears throughout, had a thoroughly menacing effect. Clearly much of the work, indeed, most of the work, had occurred during rehearsal, and the conductor simply reminded the orchestra through his manifold gestures what should be done. If ever an orchestral work could be characterized as an “orchestral concerto,” this Ravel masterpiece from 1907 should be so labeled.

Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 21, followed. Canadian violinist James Ehnes was soloist and may be the first to perform in Weill Hall on a Stradivarius! The San Francisco Symphony’s concertmaster, Alexander Barantschik, plays a Guanerius. I was expecting a large sound from this violin but the high register did not to fill the hall as anticipated. This sonority increased a bit around the fifth section of the work, but the sound was not what one might expect from a violin of this caliber, and I must admit to some disappointment. Perhaps Mr. Ehnes put more emphasis into the performance at this moment, but for me, I had hoped for more. This violinist’s technique is masterful, and he faced every challenge in the score with aplomb, though the tone quality of the instrument did not match his or Weill Hall’s abilities. However, the audience stood, shouting bravos for quite a while, and produced large amount of applause. I too shouted bravo.

The final work on the program was Elgar’s Variations on an Original Theme, Opus 36, known as “Enigma.” There are fourteen variations upon an original theme and were composed in 1899. Each variation is a musical portrait of a friend or close acquaintance, and some of these variations have become quite familiar to audiences around the world. The only orchestral section in the entire program with which the conductor was less than successful was his too straightforward interpretation of the Nimrod or ninth variation. While other conductors may treat this music with too much sentiment, Mr. Dutoit’s interpretation was too careful and routine. I have actually seen tears come to audience members’ eyes whenever this movement is performed, and the Santa Rosa Symphony played it recently in a memorial concert.

It is not a musical requirement that the audience be so moved, but the popular work might have been more satisfactory with a broader, more emotional musical performance.