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Recital
SCHUMANN AND BARTOK HIGHLIGHT BRONFMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Lee Ormasa
Friday, April 21, 2017
Those people once addicted to the “Angry Birds” game application likely suffered an auditory flashback during the opening measures of the allegro from Bartok’s Suite, Op. 14, the opening work in Yefim Bronfman’s April 21 recital at Weill Hall. The repetitive opening figures of the Bartok were...
Symphony
HULKING MAHLER "TITAN" AT SO CO PHIL'S SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 08, 2017
A composer’s first symphony rarely gives a clear indication of what beautiful complexities will follow over the years. Early Mozart and Tchaikovsky are examples, and the big exceptions to this axiom are the “firsts” of Beethoven, Shostakovich and Mahler. Tackling Mahler ‘s D Major Symphony (No. 1,...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY STAYS CLOSE TO HOME
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Santa Rosa Symphony concerts usually feature high-powered soloists imported from afar, but for their recent “Bring on the Strings” concert set, they stuck close to home, thrusting their principal violin, viola and cello into the limelight. The violinist (Joseph Edelberg) and the violist (Elizabeth P...
Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Symphony
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
Recital
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpour’s March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
Recital
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
Chamber
CONSUMMATE ENSEMBLE FROM THE MIRÓ IN WEILL
by Sonia Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Sunday, March 05, 2017
A March 5 Weill hall audience of 350 leaned in to share an intimate musical space and to hear the Miró String Quartet’s sterling concert. Starting with Haydn's Op. 20, No. 4, the four musicians seemed to want listeners to be enveloped in their music. The Miró plays with the feat of being four dist...
Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
Chamber
MUSIC AND ART MELD IN ZUCKERMAN TRIO CONCERT
by Nicki Bell
Friday, February 24, 2017
A Feb. 24 Weill Hall concert by the Pinchas Zuckerman Trio juxtaposed formidable music making with palpable associations about visual art. Brahms’ C Minor "Sonatensatz” (Scherzo) is a short youthful work for violin and piano, and was an opening call to action. Lively and vigorous playing alternated...
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.