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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...
RECITAL REVIEW
Green Music Center / Sunday, April 21, 2013
Tara Erraught, mezzo soprano. Marelo Amaral, piano.

Mezzo Soprano Tara Erraught

MESMERIZING IRISH MEZZO TELLS STORIES IN WEILL SONG RECITAL

by Vaida Falconbridge
Sunday, April 21, 2013

There were stories of fiery gypsies, dances, kisses, deep angst, unrequited love, mermaids, and headstrong young maidens. Irish-born mezzo soprano Tara Erraught told her Weill Hall audience April 21 in her lilting Irish brogue, “People ask why I pick the programs the way I do. Well, being from Ireland, one has to be a storyteller. So I’ve chosen these songs because I love these stories!” And tell them convincingly she did, with a stunning vocal instrument, wonderfully animated facial expressions, sparkling eyes, beaming smiles, and total commitment to the text.

Dvorak is best known for his symphonic works and concerti, but he wrote songs with piano throughout his life. Although some were composed in German, because of his nationalistic bent he generally preferred Czech folk lyrics and rustic Slavic poetry. His Vier Lieder, or Four Songs (Op. 82) opened the program and was a homage to Schubert.

The songs were varied in mood and tempo, offering a mostly positive first impression of Ms. Erraught’s artistry, tonal palette, and diction. She has an exciting and excellent top, but the low range not as substantial as expected for a mezzo, at least in this group (the Rossini and Handel later in the program were very well-balanced), and she has great facility and ease with the German language. This was more than confirmed with the outstanding Brahms “Gypsy Songs” and Wolf “Morike Lieder” later in the program.

Mostly remembered for his Roman tone poems, songs by Respighi are not often heard on recitals, although he wrote beautifully for the voice and was married to the singer Elsa Olivieri-Sangiacomo. Of the three Respighi selections performed by Ms. Erraught, “Nebbie” (Fog) is probably the best known, due to the highly memorable and haunting descending/ascending melodic pattern. It was elegantly sung.

The first half ended with Brahms’ “Gypsy Songs.” Op 103. With 11 songs in the set, they were originally written in 1887-1888 for a quartet of voices and piano; Brahms arranged Nos. 1 to 7 and 11 for solo voice and piano in 1889, and these eight were sung by Ms. Erraught with brilliance of tone, vibrant shimmering high notes, and exciting dynamic contrasts.

Coming back for the second half wearing a royal blue Grecian-style gown, Ms. Erraught sang six of Wolf’s “Morike Lieder.” Wolf, whose greatest musical influence was Wagner, was best known for his lieder, and his temperament and sensitive poetic discernment lead him to more intimate and subjective musical forms. Again, in singing a group with wide demands in terms of range, color and dynamics, I heard in Ms. Erraught an accomplished, elegant, tasteful, and perceptive performer. One minor quibble: in some slower and soft passages the “oh” and “ah” vowels were at times too far back, resulting in a slightly throaty spread quality that affected the vibrato on the sustained last notes of certain phrases and thus lost intensity in her portrayal of the text .

Saving the best for last in Handel and Rossini arias the singer, as they say, knocked it out of the park. “Dopo notte,” from Ariodante, could not have been a bigger contrast from the Wolf miniatures. With jaw-dropping agility and speed, loads of clean, accurate trills, impressive evenness of scale from top to bottom (and back up again and again and again), it was a total showpiece. “Lascia ch’io pianga” from Rinaldo featured a lovely legato and a nicely-ornamented da capo section.

“Una voce poco fa” from Rossini’s Barbiere di Siviglia is sometimes considered a ‘warhorse,’ but it’s always an aria where a singer can prove her bonafides and bid to be added to the list of greats who have gone before. There’s no doubt, Tara Erraught is fast. Furiously fast. Think Cecilia Bartoli-fast. At that point, the audience was more than ready to express their appreciation with a standing ovation, which earned them the pleasure of two encores.

“It would be wrong to come all the way from Ireland and not sing ‘Danny Boy,’ “ she told us, and then sang it so poignantly and gorgeously you could have heard the proverbial pin drop in the hall. The second encore was yet another barnburner, “Non piu mesta” from Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella), with two-octave-plus runs and trills galore at breakneck speed, again performed fearlessly and flawlessly.

It would also be wrong not to acknowledge the superb pianist Jonathan Ware in his first collaboration with Ms. Erraught. She shared from the stage, “We’ve had a ball in rehearsals, so I hope that’s coming through this afternoon.” It did indeed.