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Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Symphony
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
Recital
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpour’s March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
Recital
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
Chamber
CONSUMMATE ENSEMBLE FROM THE MIRÓ IN WEILL
by Sonia Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Sunday, March 05, 2017
A March 5 Weill hall audience of 350 leaned in to share an intimate musical space and to hear the Miró String Quartet’s sterling concert. Starting with Haydn's Op. 20, No. 4, the four musicians seemed to want listeners to be enveloped in their music. The Miró plays with the feat of being four dist...
Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
Chamber
MUSIC AND ART MELD IN ZUCKERMAN TRIO CONCERT
by Nicki Bell
Friday, February 24, 2017
A Feb. 24 Weill Hall concert by the Pinchas Zuckerman Trio juxtaposed formidable music making with palpable associations about visual art. Brahms’ C Minor "Sonatensatz” (Scherzo) is a short youthful work for violin and piano, and was an opening call to action. Lively and vigorous playing alternated...
Chamber
THREE BEETHOVEN TRIOS BEGUILE AUDIENCE IN FEB. 19 WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Chamber music concerts featuring one composer can be tricky, but the Han/Setzer/Finckel trio made a Feb. 19 Weill Hall audience of 500 hear and to a degree see the boundless creativity of Beethoven. The G Major Trio, Op. 1, No. 2, opened the afternoon’s Beethoven odyssey and one wonders why it is t...
Chamber
AUTHORITATIVE BARTOK HIGHLIGHTS TETZLAFF VIOLIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Christian Tetzlaff’s Feb. 18 violin recital rolled along with lively and fresh readings of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert when the specter of Bartok’s granitic Second Sonata intervened. The sonic shock to the audience of 250 in Weill was palpable. Composed in 1923 the 20-minute two-movement work i...
Symphony
WHAT SOUND DO STAR-CROSSED LOVERS MAKE?
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so the Santa Rosa Symphony feted the occasion by telling and retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet, a tale ever the more poignant during our era of stark divisions. The first telling was from Berlioz; the second from Prokofiev. In between was Brahms’ monu...
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.