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Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
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 REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Festival Orchestra, conducted from the piano by Stephen Prutsman. Susan Waterfall, narrator.

Pianist and Conductor Stephen Prutsman

A MUSIC OFFERING IN A SONIC MIXTURE

by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bach’s iconic D Minor Clavier Concerto was the centerpiece in the fourth day of Mendocino Music Festival events July 16 in the big tent concert hall, with San Francisco-based Stephen Prutsman the featured artist.

Conducting a chamber orchestra of ten from a lidless piano, Mr. Prutsman took fast tempos and a muscular approach throughout, eschewing subtlety in favor of driving rhythms and dramatic contrasts.
His approach to this contrapuntal masterpiece featured some novel trills with speedy conclusions, pedal point and a detache touch in scale passages, all well suited to this music. It was not Bach to everyone’s taste but elicited loud applause from the 400 people in the hall.

The small orchestra, composed of five violins, two violas, two cellos and bass, managed the speedy pace well. The Adagio movement was captivating.

Mention should be made of the amplification that produced far too much volume and generated a piano tone that was brittle and lacking color. Resident technicians say amplification is required as the tent (and audience) smothers reverberation. The downsides are a lack of spatial presence for the instruments and unnatural string color and overtones. Given the physical condition of a large tent concert space there presumably is not an alternative to the electronic enhancement.

The concert began with Festival co-director Susan Waterfall’s erudite descriptions from the podium of the 1647 genesis of Bach’s “Musical Offering,” BWV 1079. This set 16 short movements is based on a flute theme of Prussian monarch Frederick the Great. In four initial canons Ms. Waterfall provided continuo at the piano and was joined by flutist Mindy Rosenfeld, violinist Jeremy Cohen and cellist Burke Schuchmann.

Bach’s stately C Minor Trio Sonata followed, a four-movement work that showcased Ms. Rosenfeld’s elegant and nimble virtuosity and the sonic support of Mr. Schuchmann’s robust cello vibrato. The tempos here were judicious, allowing the interwoven instrumental lines to be heard clearly. This ideceptively complex Baroque music was rendered convincingly for connoisseurs and those new to Bach’s late compositions.