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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, October 6, 2013
Les Pfutzenreuter, conductor. Beth Aiken, oboe; Eric Van Dyke, clarinet; Ben Robinson, horn; Ann Hubbard, bassoon

Conductor Les Pfutzenreuter

VIENNESE CHARM WITHOUT THE WALTZES

by Earl Dixon
Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Ukiah Symphony opened its 2013-2014 season in their home city’s SPACE Theater Oct. 5-6 with a program of music that originated in Vienna. Never one to go in for the stereotypical, conductor Les Pfutzenreuter sidestepped any material from Strauss and in fact none of the pieces were waltzes. The program instead focused on an earlier period in Viennese music making, which seemed to be to the liking of the full capacity audience.

The Sunday program opened with Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” Overture, and the Symphony showed it was eager and excited about the new season. The piece was performed with enthusiasm and flair under Mr. Pfutzenreuter’s crisp and concise baton. Continuing with a work from Mozart’s Vienna period, the Sinfonia Concertante for Winds (K. 297b), had three movements: Allegro con brio, Adagio and Andante con variazioni.

The Allegro was well-played but it seemed to take on an interminable quality. This impression may have been enhanced by the afternoon’s warm and humid weather that lent stuffiness to the air. Theater personnel quickly applied some air conditioning to refresh flagging audience members, but it took a while to have effect. Perhaps the nature of the composition itself was a factor, as the Allegro tempo seemed to be appropriate at the beginning of the piece, but any “con brio” quality seemed to be absent by mid-point. Given the brief but stifling conditions in the theater, this is almost excusable.

The Adagio was a pleasant surprise: rich and warm, the piece successfully transporting the listener to another time and place, and was played movingly and with palpable feeling. In the variations the quartet of soloists were Beth Aiken, oboe; clarinetist Eric Van Dyke; Ann Hubbard, bassoon; and hornist Ben Robinson. This group particularly excelled in presenting a balanced and intricate four-part counterpoint. The acoustic quality of the theater is good and the artists clearly took advantage of it to listen attentively to one another. During solo moments, Ms. Hubbard demonstrated an impressive command of her instrument.

Following Intermission the Symphony returned to present a rousing rendition of Mozart’s Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro” that drew enthusiastic applause.

Beethoven’s first Symphony in C Major (Op. 21) completed the program. The first movement, Adagio molto-Allegro con brio, was well –played and since fresh air was vented into the theater, the “con brio” was now evident. The second movement, Andante cantabile con moto, was performed both “with motion” and with sensitivity to dynamics and reflected well on Mr. Pfutzenreuter’s rehearsal technique, as well as on the discipline and focus of the musicians.

The third movement, Menuetto: Allegro molto e vivace, and the finale, Adagio-Allegro molto e vivace, were deftly performed. The string section seemed to have lost accurate intonation in the Menuetto, having admirably maintained pitch up to this point. But this was a minor distraction, and in the finale there was no evidence of difficulty, and the program concluded with energy and gusto.