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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
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.