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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Friday, December 12, 2014
New Century Chamber Orchestra. Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, director. San Francisco Girls Chorus

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the NCCO in Weill Hall Dec. 12

NEW CENTURY AND SF CHORUS CHARMS WEILL AUDIENCE IN CHRISTMAS PROGRAM

by Sonia Tubridy
Friday, December 12, 2014

On December 12 a good-sized audience came out of the cold evening into the warmth and light of Weill Hall, and soon the regal warmth and light of beautiful music filled the auditorium and hearts of those present. Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg with New Century Chamber Orchestra launched into a spirited rendition of the Entrance of the Queen of Sheba from Handel’s Oratorio “Solomon,” HWV 87. It was a burst of joy and immediately showed how extraordinary this chamber orchestra of 19 string players can be. NCCO is a collaborative ensemble and they play with a commitment and sense of musical intent that is breathtaking.

Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg addressed the audience and told about the program, including favorite selections and composers that NCCO and the San Francisco Girls Chorus had put together: Handel, Vivaldi, Corelli, carols, instrumental and choral pieces to make us all happy. The variety, beauty, old favorites, fresh interpretations created a festive musical experience.

The evening continued with the the Corelli Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 8, "Christmas Concerto,” full of lively and poignant passages and exquisite solo and ensemble playing. The music was dynamically nuanced and the orchestra seemed to breathe and soar as one musical soul. Next, the San Francisco Girls Chorus presented “Radiant Stars” by Caesar Cui a cappella, and then Vaughan Williams' Four Songs of Winter together with orchestra. The chorus excelled with warm tone and a range of vocal colors that was a delight. The balance between voices and instruments was exceptionally good, a challenge for most choral performances with orchestra.

Vivaldi's "Winter" from the Four Seasons with Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg on solo violin was a miracle of fresh and intriguing moments. This often performed piece was imbued with new excitement, nuances and cascades of joy. It was a spontaneous and exhilarating presentation. An audience member commented to me during the intermission that there could not be enough superlative words of praise to describe the violinist’s virtuosity with the NCCO.

Following the break the SF Girls Chorus returned with NCCO to sing Mozart's “Engel Gottes Kunden” (two sopranos with flute and strings, KV. 519) and Rutter's Nativity Carol with a charm and clarity, and then performed a traditional medley of seasonal carols. This rich program concluded with Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 (BWV 1048) and the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's great Messiah Oratorio. The Bach had the effect of being completely familiar but also brought to new and vibrant life. All phrases had intent and direction. The music really mattered to the musicians and I was swept into their enthusiasm. The Handel Chorus was beautifully arranged by C. Assad for the Girls Chorus and they were able to keep the sound vibrant and clear in Weill’s sterling acoustic setting. Two encores allowed musicians and audience some happy moments together.

As we left this remarkable concert many noted that this event had fulfilled a hope of sending us home happy and content, with gifts of joyous musical memories to carry us through the holidays and beyond.