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Recital
HOME RECITAL BACH COMPLETES HOLIDAY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 30, 2017
The just closing 2017 year was a calamity for many, but locally in music there were joys galore, and it was fitting Dec. 30 have the balm of two Bach’s violin sonatas in a private Guerneville home recital hosted by the eminent musician Sonia Tubridy. Violinist Richard Heinberg joined Ms. Tubridy in...
Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE WITH SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
CHAMBER REVIEW
The Goat Rodeo Sessions / Friday, August 23, 2013
Yo Yo Ma,cello; Stuart Duncan, fiddle; Edgar Meyer, bass; Chris Thile, mandolin; Aoife O'Donovan, vocals

The Goat Rodeo Sessions

MUSICAL GOATS INVADE WEILL HALL PASTURE

by J. C. Benjamin
Friday, August 23, 2013

In the penultimate Weill Hall summer season concert on Aug. 23, the insouciant Goat Rodeo Sessions band brought an audience of 3,700 an eclectic mix of bluegrass, classical and fusion music unique in the Hall’s short history. The rapt listeners were clearly out for an evening of distinctive entertainment.

An enthusiastic reception greeted the band’s entrance, and a thunderous standing ovation, including yells from 2,000 in the terrace seats, ended the two-hour show. Ostensibly the stellar cellist Yo Yo Ma was the group’s leader, but the band’s lack of formality and often prankish stage behavior underscored their unconventional approach to the selected music. Announced from the stage, the song titles were varied and pungent: Quarter Chicken Dark, Less is Moi, Parallax, Where’s My Bow?, Farewell Angelina, Franz and the Eagle, 13:8, Hill Justice, Helping Hand, Attaboy and a relaxed encore, All Through The Night.

Soprano Aoife O'Donovan joined Mr. Ma, fiddle player Stuart Duncan, bassist Edgar Meyer and the always-in-motion mandolin and guitar virtuoso Chris Thile for four songs, and Mr. Meyer did double duty at the piano. Mr. Duncan and Mr. Thile sporadically added an extra violin or banjo to the mix.

Mr. Ma told the audience that mutual trust was needed to play this kind of music, as was soon evident when artistic egos were supplanted by frequent smiles, nods to each other and spiritual interaction. The Goats clearly loved making music that was often driving, fast, playful and full of energy. Long explanations about the titles of pieces were offered, with a Goat “hand salute” and a shout out to the people on the terrace: “How are you doing?”

In the fourth piece, “Where’s My Bow?”, the character was a mixture of classical and hoedown, almost a work that minimalist composer John Adams might have crafted. Capriciously, the band touched bows at the conclusion in a resounding “high five.” Ms. O’Donovan and Mr. Thile had a beguiling duet in “Farewell Angelina,” a Bob Dylan song made famous by Joan Baez. “Hill Justice” echoed the banjo style of the legendary picker Ralph Stanley. Two movements of a Bach sonata for viola da gamba and harpsichord--here transposed for cello, bass and mandolin--were played persuasively, with subtle charm. Mr. Ma used a score in this work.

Announced as the group’s favorite, “Attaboy” received a provocative performance where the violin becomes a country fiddle, the cello sounds like a fiddle, and the mandolin weaves an evocative vocal line in a diminuendo, only to fire up the group to a propulsive conclusion.

At the end, Mr. Ma paid homage to Joan and Sanford Weill for their seminal support of local music, and the evening’s magical effects carried over to gay post-concert festivities.

Donald Edward and Pamela Morris contributed to this review.