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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...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
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.