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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
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.