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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...
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.