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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...
SYMPHONY REVIEW

RIMSKY PROVES RISKY IN GUERNEVILLE

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 21, 2008

Seth Montfort’s Russian River Conservatory seems to have a lock on classical music premieres for the North Bay and Sonoma County, with nearly every concert in his Guerneville mortuary-turned–concert-hall bringing arcane repertoire to small but knowledgeable audiences. Concerts produced by Seth are adventures.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s Piano Concerto in C Sharp was the featured work on Sept. 21, with Montfort at the Conservatory piano and Gabriel Sakakeeny conducting the Mortuary Orchestra of Guerneville. Having a professional conductor (Sakakeeny is the director of the American Philharmonic Sonoma County) was an absolute necessity for this concert, as rehearsal time was limited, acoustics were problematic, and the music was probably new to all, including this reviewer, whose only experience with the concerto is the long-vanished Richter recording from the 1960s.

The concerto doesn’t quite fit into conventional orchestral repertoire. Composed in 1882, at the same time as the similar (but longer) Arensky Concerto in F, the Rimsky work is on a different planet than the ca.1875 blockbusters of the Russian canon, the Tchaikovsky B-Flat and the Rubinstein D Minor. Rimsky’s work never really makes an artistic whole. There is much Liszt present in thematic transformation, lots of octaves in the piano, and much alteration of tempo.

In this performance, there was, unfortunately, not much alteration of volume, nor was there any subtlety of phrasing or harmonic balancing. The reasons for this lack of success were manifold: the inadequate and dull piano, the absence of pianistic rubato, the dense textures from the small performance space, and a sense of incompatibility between the solo instrument and the 29-musician orchestra.

On the other hand, the aspects that went well were quite lovely, including the ardent clarinet solos by Jeff Chan; the uniformly good horn playing from Janis Lieberman and Paul Hadley; the long, repetitious but lovely solo cadenza with choice resurrections of the opening theme; and Sakakeeny’s rapt attention to the score.

This reviewer could not stay for the second half, a complete “Seasons” of Vivaldi. Alas, it was my loss, as phone calls the next day revealed that the performance had polish, charm and authenticity.