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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
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.