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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
North Bay Sinfonietta / Friday, March 14, 2014
Cynthia Weichel, music director/conductor.

Cynthia Weichel (left) and members of the North Bay Sinfonietta

AMPLE EVIDENCE OF A BRIGHT FUTURE

by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 14, 2014

An inaugural concert for a new area orchestra is a special deal, and the fledgling North Bay Sinfonietta’s March 14 concert in Santa Rosa’s First Presbyterian Church gave ample evidence of a bright future.

Organized and conducted by Cynthia Weichel, the Sinfonietta’s 30-plus members filled the cramped sanctuary stage and played four disparate works to a cheerful audience of 75. Boieldieu’s Overture to “La Dame Blanche” passed without much notice, the brass overly loud and Cynthia Shanklin’s flute playing a standout.

A Vivaldi Sinfonia in C Major (“L’incoronazione di Dario,” RV 719) came next. It was well played, but at times the ensemble was ragged. As with most amateur orchestras, the Sinfonietta's string intonation is frequently variable, entrances and cutoffs are inexact, high string sound is weak, and odd chirps can sporadically be heard that are not in the score. That said, the Vivaldi and especially the following Symphony No. 26 of Mozart, K. 184, had many lovely moments. Ms. Weichel’s direction has an easy-going stability, and the drama, sonic contrasts and pensive mood of Mozart's symphony were carefully drawn. The ensemble was most precise in the lighter sections and at lower volumes.

Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B Minor (“Unfinished”), D. 759, comprised the entire second half. The soft and somber beginning was elegant. Though Ms. Weichel had the score at hand, she seldom looked at it, and under her baton the Sinfonietta caught the passion and dark momentum of the opening Allegro. The climaxes were built with force and spotlighted Marc Helfman’s clarinet solos. It was the group’s best playing of the evening.

A new orchestra in the North Bay may fill a performing gap, with community musicians performing in varied small venues; the Sinfonietta has scheduled its second concert May 2 in the same church. It joins a formidable list of North Bay ensembles: American Philharmonic Sonoma County, Symphony of the Redwoods, Ukiah Symphony, Philharmonia Healdsburg, Santa Rosa Symphony, Marin Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra, Mill Valley Philharmonic, Santa Rosa Chamber Orchestra and with four yearly concerts in Weill Hall, the San Francisco Symphony.