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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...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Saturday, February 14, 2015
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Charles Dutoit, conductor. Nikolai Lugansky, piano

Conductor Charles Dutoit

CHAMPAGNE ORGY OF SWISS ORCHESTRA'S SOUND IN WEILL

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 14, 2015

Orchestras on tour usually perform hefty display works to showoff their virtuosity and power. And so it was with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (OSR) Feb. 14 in Weill Hall. Big works, weighty display. And in a surprise the compositions by Stravinsky and Ravel in the second half did the rare thing of upstaging a popular Rachmaninoff piece with piano.

Debussy’s Ibéria opened the concert and the performance established the OSR as a resplendent ensemble with a charismatic leader. Conductor Charles Dutoit directed in a taught reading where the Spanish flavor of the 1908 tone poem only appeared near the end with the sound of castanets, trombone slides and glowing melodies in the bassoons. and oboes.

Mr. Dutoit has a direct but never extravagant podium style, using the score for each of the four works and conveying cues effortlessly to the 80-person OSR, all clad in black with the men in tails and the women in stylish dresses and pant suits.

The overshadowed item was Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op 43, with Mr. Dutoit and pianist Nikolai Lugansky in happy agreement about tempos and phrasing. In many ways it’s a more difficult work to perform than Rachmaninoff’s C and D-Minor Concertos, as many of the variations and tricky rhythms can cause ensemble problems. But here all was in place with the soloist’s sure technical command in evidence in the flashy cadenza of Variation 15 and inimitable playing from the brass. That said, it was a conventional performance with orthodox phrasing and style. Pleasing in every way but a bit prosaic, even at the repeated “Dies Irae” plainchant motifs so familiar with this composer. At the end the audience recalled Mr. Lugansky three times but there was no encore. Concertmaster Bogdan Zvoristeanu played compelling solos as he did throughout the evening

Mr. Dutoit led a concluding half that was a champagne orgy in sound, beginning with Stravinsky’s Song of the Nightingalesuite from his ballet. Here the playing from the entire wind section, especially from flutists Sarah Rumer and Loïe Schneider, was brilliant, and the conductor carefully managed the many short inter-section duos: solo violin and winds, trumpets and strings, harps and celesta.

Sonic splendor continued with a performance of Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2, another work extracted from a ballet. The French’s composer’s style, so familiar from the Mother Goose Suite and Impressionist piano works, brought forth gorgeous string playing, and Mr. Dutoit’s command of changes of volume and orchestral texture was faultless. Again solos from the winds were shapely and Mr. Dutoit clearly has this music in his Swiss (and surely Gallic) blood, controlling the knotty Danse Générale with a fluid but precise beat.

I have heard many Weill Hall ovations that have been louder than the one the OSR received, but perhaps none longer. The audience of 1,100 adopted a European-style of approval with stamping feet and continuous applause, and the conductor was called out four times. An encore was not forthcoming and Mr. Dutoit finally waved his hands, signaling that the musicians wanted to finally leave what had been a memorable concert.