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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...
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.