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Recital
HOME RECITAL BACH COMPLETES HOLIDAY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 30, 2017
The just closing 2017 year was a calamity for many, but locally in music there were joys galore, and it was fitting Dec. 30 have the balm of two Bach’s violin sonatas in a private Guerneville home recital hosted by the eminent musician Sonia Tubridy. Violinist Richard Heinberg joined Ms. Tubridy in...
Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE WITH SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
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.