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Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
SYMPHONY REVIEW

Bassoonist Carla Wilson

SYMPHONY'S STRAVINSKY A WIND AND RHYTHMIC FEAST

by Terry McNeill
Monday, December 8, 2014

Santa Rosa Symphony conductor Bruno Ferrandis put together a curious program mix Dec. 8 in Weill Hall that on paper promised a culture clash, but actually delivered a memorable musical experience.

Composers often fashion suites from orchestral works, and just as often the shorter suite can be more effective than the complete piece. Stravinsky’s 1920 ballet Pulcinella in the popular abridged form is a familiar concert piece, but the complete work comprised the program’s second half, and it’s far more effective than the Suite from 1935. And in just over forty minutes it was a feast for the Symphony’s ten wind and brass instruments.

Soprano Kindra Scharich, tenor Jonathan Smucker and bass Kirk Eichelberger formed the solo trio and sang the parts in an animated but sometimes ungrateful Neapolitan Italian. But the evening’s standout performances came from stellar oboist Laura Reynolds; flutists Kathleen Lane Reynolds and Stacey Pelinka (doubling on piccolo); bassoonists Carla Wilson and Karla Ekholm; and the lone trombone player, Bruce Chrisp. Lovely duets abounded: cello and trombone, bassoon (not always playing together) and oboe-flute. The conductor’s mastery of Stravinsky’s complex rhythms was admirable, and concertmaster Joseph Edelberg played elegant and succinct solos.

In the first half the 37-member Augsburg Boys Choir performed six a capella motets and were the chorus for Mozart’s Coronation Mass, K. 317. Though the six selections in German had variety, including antiphonal stage grouping in Praetorius’ Nun komm, der Heiden Heilen, Lassus’ forceful and complex Tui sunt cáeli, et túa est térre and the Philipp Silcher celebratory Christmas song In dulci jubilo, they lacked cumulative dramatic impact. Technically attacks and cutoffs were good but often phrases were choppy and from my balcony seat the high tessitura was at times muddy. The frequent group movements on stage seemed unnecessary and time consuming.

Choir Director Reinhard Kammler conducted and was at the piano for a choral encore, the carol “Oh Holy Night,” beginning in English with subsequent stanzas appearing to be in the original French. The ovation from the nearly full Weill audience was loud.

Mozart’s short C Major “Coronation” Mass from 1779 concluded the first half in a rousing performance with three boys from the Augsburg group joining Mr. Smucker as the vocal quartet. Occasionally the orchestra covered the Choir and Mr. Ferrandis worked hard with quick eye and baton movements to get a balanced blend of sound. Used as a continuo, the organ was mostly inaudible through four speakers at back stage left, and the real sonic underpinning came from the brass, timpanist Andrew Lewis and four bass viols.

With quick tempos and piquant drama the Mass had a thoroughly graceful and Mozartian flair, with beautiful singing in the Benedictus. The unnamed-in-the-program Augsburg boy soprano sang with fervor, but I missed the color and range of a real soprano. Ms. Scharich’s operatic voice would have been a formidable substitute.