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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...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Russian National Orchestra. Carlo Montanaro, conductor. Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano. Sarah Chang, violin

Russian National Orchestra

CHANG AND THIBAUDET WITH A RUSSIAN TWIST

by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It's always a formidable task for a performer to appear last on a program after wildly successful performances earlier in the concert. That unenviable job fell to violinist Sarah Chang July 16 when she played the Barber Concerto, Op. 14, with the Russian National Orchestra in Weill Hall, following a splashy St. Saëns piano concerto and a riveting Shostakovich overture.

The Barber is ever lyrical, even in the perpetual motion finale, and throughout its 23-minute duration the bucolic nature of the work never quite gives over to extended virtuoso passages for the violin. Ms. Chang had a shaky start with intonation problems, but these were quickly resolved, and her command of the instrument's high E string notes was often thrilling. In the second movement Ms. Chang echoed Vitaly Nazarov's majestic oboe solo and widened her vibrato, the ending chord held to a lovely length by conductor Carlo Montanaro. The finale (Presto) was never a race, and Ms. Chang's flaying but accurate bow brought a rousing conclusion and loud applause.

St. Saëns' F Major Concerto (Egyptian) has never quite gotten its due, as the composer's popular G Minor concerto (No. 2) is often performed and the tighter and more introverted C Minor (No. 4) has slipped from the repertoire. Jean-Yves Thibaudet has been on a 10-year quest to change that, playing the Egyptian Concerto all over the world and recording it several times. He now seems to own it, ripping through the showy solo part with abandon, with occasional pungent left-hand sforzandi and continual forceful attacks. In the Allegro, most of the scale passages were played very fast and with half pedal, sacrificing clarity for a colorful wash of notes. This technique suited the music, and the orchestra responded perfectly at every juncture. The Andante, with ersatz Egyptian motifs, was performed lovingly, the ending tremolo in the cellos eerie and carrying to the back of the hall.

Speed returned in the Allegro finale. Mr. Montanaro asked for, and received, tumultuous climaxes from the orchestra. Mr. Thibaudet's right-hand skips were not always accurate, but the ascending interlocking-chord cadenza near the end was controlled thunder. Mr. Montanaro reined in the orchestra with an abrupt decrescendo just before the final potent chords. Exquisite.

This sensational performance brought the audience of 1,200 to its feet. After four curtain calls, Mr. Thibaudet played a long but limpid and chaste encore, Ravel's "Pavane pour une Infante défunte."

With two big-name soloists, how was the Russian National Orchestra under Mr. Montanaro? Fine indeed, as they showed in the concert's beginning with the fast-paced Shostakovich Festive Overture, Op. 96. The opening brass fanfare had sharp bite, and the winds and strings played a fast four-note theme with precision. It was an impeccable performance. One wonders if the Russian National crew could play this overture in their sleep.