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SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Ukiah Symphony / Sunday, May 19, 2013
Les Pfutzenreuter, conductor. Lawrence Holmefjord-Sarabi, piano. Mendocino College Masterworks Chorale. Vocal soloists TBA

Conductor Les Pfutzenreuter at Mendocino College

UKIAH SYMPHONY CLOSES SEASON WITH TWO BIG WORKS

by Ed Reinhart
Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Ukiah Symphony closed its 2012-13 season May 19th with a bold matinee presentation at the Mendocino College Theater. Featured were the Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat minor, Opus 23, and the third and fourth Movements of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Opus 125.

Pianist Lawrence Holmfjord-Sarabi was the soloist in the Tchaikovsky and his performance was powerful and moving. There was a visible split-second of doubt in the right hand during the Andantino Semplice, but this would have been evident only to an attentive observer and listener, and it was acoustically insignificant and did not detract from the quality of the performance. Mr. Holmefjord-Sarabi demonstrated a clear and precise touch, and managed to retain these qualities during more delicate and expressive passages without slipping into a mechanical mode of playing. This performance of this most popular of concertos, written in 1875, received a standing ovation.

The Symphony supported the soloist well but in several places, particularly in the French horn attacks during the finale and deteriorating tuning of the woodwinds, the music suffered. The strings were strong and crisp on attacks and the percussion section was precise. The horns and woodwinds were expressive throughout and conductor Les Pfutzenreuter kept careful control of dynamics.

Following intermission the Mendocino College Masterworks Chorale joined the Symphony for the final two movements of Beethoven's last big orchestral work. The beginning of the third Movement did not offer an auspicious start to this powerful work. The Adagio Molto e Cantabile is written to offer strong lyrical expression to violins and cellos, but here the playing was actually too lyrical, tending towards sloppiness. Fortunately this part gave way to a magnificent rendition of the formidible final movement .

Solo vocalists in the "Ode to Joy" included Marilyn Simpson, alto; Kathy Allen, soprano; tenor Rick Allen; and Richard Goodman, bass. Mr. Goodman began with an impressive performance of the initial bass solo - moving, heartfelt and precise. The entire quartet performed well, though in this afternoon Mr. Allen's voice seemed underpowered for the demands of the score. The soprano singing was excellent but Ms. Allen could have used less volume in the four-part harmonies where she tended to dominate rather than blend. Ms. Simpson's was a flawless alto.

Also shining brightly was the Ukiah Masterworks chorale. They sang with passion and accuracy, the music swelling in intensity, and Mr. Pfutzenreuter had an inspired view of the score and how to balance the many sonic threads of the large ensemble. A standing ovation from the large audience ensued.