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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Santa Rosa Symphony / Sunday, March 23, 2014
Bruno Ferrandis, conductor. Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra. Paul Silverthorne, viola

A TOUR DE FORCE OF SONIC SPLENDOR

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 23, 2014

On paper the Santa Rosa Symphony's March 23 concert in Weill Hall looked promising and even provocative, with a world-premiere concerto, a famous solo violist and two flashy Russian orchestral works. But as often is the case, in unexpected ways the whole was not equal to the sum of the parts.

Behzad Ranjbaran's new viola concerto was written for the Symphony and the eminent British violist, Paul Silverthorne, and closed the concert's first half before 1,200 on yet another balmy Sonoma County Sunday afternoon. Silverthorne, surprisingly playing from score, displayed in the opening Adagio a warm lower register and, for expressive effect, lots of tiny slides into notes. Ranjbaran makes use of a large orchestra, with plentiful interplay of marimba, xylophone, celesta and harp. Flutist Kathleen Lane Reynolds played prominent mellifluous short notes and what sounded like chirps. As a composer, Ranjbaran is a master orchestrator and a canny exploiter of unique tone colors.

In the central Largo movement, the solo part had double stops and virtuoso phrasing in an often sad lament, but as in the first and last movements, Silverthorne could not effectively project above the orchestra's weighty sound. There were no pyrotechnics here, and conductor Bruno Ferrandis shaped the ensemble in music reminiscent of Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony. Muted trumpets and the marimbist Stan Muncy gave the music a somber air. The duo between Silverthorne and violinist Jay Zhong was lively, the two string lines ending the movement in a captivating hush.

Without pause, the concerto was off and running into an Allegro vivace, the playing angry at times and with short snippets of themes. Instead of a conventional symphonic long line, Ranjbaran juxtaposes short melodic statements in many guises. Silverthorne played his viola splendidly but was again outgunned against the orchestral fabric. At the end, Ranjbaran joined Silverthorne and Ferrandis on stage to loud applause.

To open the concert, members of the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra paired with the Symphony in a scrappy and boisterous performance of a chestnut, Borodin's "Polovtsian Dances" from the opera "Prince Igor." There was expert playing by oboe, English horn and harp, and even a piquant sound from the tambourine. As good as dances were, the showpiece of the day was the closing work, Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade." Ferrandis, in complete control all afternoon, was at his consummate best in this glorious display of symphonic prowess.

Hardly looking at the score, Ferrandis guided a cacophonous but shapely performance that was a feast for the first-chair players in almost every section. If the Ranjbaran was a concerto for viola, the Rimsky was one for the orchestra. Mention must be made of the glamorous playing from clarinetist Roy Zajac, cellist Adelle-Akiko Kearns, oboist Laura Reynolds, flutists Stacey Pelinka and Ms. Reynolds, hornist Caitlyn Smith, trumpeters Doug Morton and Scott Macomber, timpanist Andrew Lewis, and percussionist Allen Biggs. Concertmaster Zhong's long solo passages, depicting the young Scheherazade, were played in an understated manner and traded power for lyricism, all to a good end.

Rising above this tour de force of sonic splendor was the dominating baton and vision of the conductor. After the final tutti, Ferrandis was liberal in acknowledging the sections and leaders, each getting a roar of audience approval.