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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...
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.