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Chamber
VANHAL QUARTET AT VOM FESTIVAL DISCOVERY AT HANNA CENTER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 15, 2018
A near-capacity crowd of 220 filled the Sonoma Hanna Boys Center Auditorium July 15 for the opening concert of the fourth Valley of the Moon Music Festival. This Festival presents gems of the Classical and early Romantic periods performed on instruments of the composer’s era, which presents a few ch...
Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Green Music Center / Sunday, June 28, 2015
Musicians include: Jeffrey Kahane, Jennifer Koh, Margaret Batjer, Benjamin Beilman, Elizabeth Prior, Peter Lloyd, Laura Reynolds, Russ deLuna, Leo Tsui, Douglas Brown, Benjamin Jaber, Danielle Kuhlmann, Robert deMaine, Aloysia Friedmann, Daniel Ching, William Fedkenhuer, John Largess, Joshua Gindele, Elise Shop Henry, Sandy Hughes and Joseph Edelberg

Pianist/Harpsichordist Jeffrey Kahane

BRANDENBURGS A SPIRITUAL GIFT IN FINAL CHAMBERFEST CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, June 28, 2015

“Well, you should have been there.” A trite saying used too often by concertgoers? Sure. But surely it was the appropriate adage for the final Chamberfest concert June 28 in Sonoma State’s Weill Hall.

Capping a nine-event series mostly in Schroeder Hall, Jeffrey Kahane led ensembles of up to 20 musicians in an extraordinary traversal of Bach’s complete Brandenburg Concertos. Written in the small Thuringia town of Cöthen in 1721, the six are multi-movement works of instrumental complexity, underpinned in each by harpsichord continuo and strong bass and cello lines. The program notes referred to this complexity: A presentation of all concertos in a single evening requires a performing group of incredible depth, with individual musicians who are comfortable as both featured soloists and ensemble players.

As the works progressed during the first half (No. 1 in F Major, No. 3 in G Major, No. 5 in D Major) I found myself thinking at each ending, “That was sensational; that was my favorite,” only to uncover a new favorite when hearing the next Concerto. In the famous harpsichord solo in the D Major’s first movement Mr. Kahane played elegantly but as usual for him did something novel. At the section’s conclusion where the finger pyrotechnics and fast trills are ending, the music seems to call for a ritard and phrase broadening, an intimate invitation for the re-entry of ensemble. That’s the way it’s usually played, but he never broke tempo and moved straight to the finish with just a slight nod to his colleagues.

Throughout the evening thrilling playing abounded, especially from violinists Benjamin Bielman and Margaret Batjer, oboists Ashley Ertz and Laura Reynolds, flutists Sandy Hughes and Elise Shope Henry (Concerto No. 4) and trumpeter David Washburn in the concluding No. 2 Concerto. Some of the instruments were not of the Baroque era (oboes for example) but Mr. Washburn played the piercing Baroque trumpet with consummate skill, even able to integrate his luminous sound into the sonic texture when needed.

All through the program string vibrato was present but of low volume and short duration, even in the extended solo violin passages by Bach veteran Jennifer Koh in Concerto No. 1, and in the viola playing of Elizabeth Prior and Aloysia Friedmann in No. 6 that began the second half. In Number 6 the lovely Adagio was performed romantically but with a Baroque sensibility, as were the lament-like slow movements of No. 5 (Affettuoso) and No. 4 (Andante). In the latter Mr. Bielman carried the main theme with blistering scale playing and subtle phrase turns and slides.

The frequent interior-movement ensembles were captivating: cellist Andrew Shulman and violinist Daniel Ching joined by oboe and flute; a contrapuntal viola duo in No. 6; the harpsichord introduction with arpeggios in No. 3, the artist handing off a distant theme to the strings; and Ms. Batjer’s entrancing duo with Ms. Hughes in the Allegro of No. 5.

Preceding the final Concerto Mr. Kahane addressed the audience about the power of Bach’s music to overcome the often unspeakable political and social events of our day, and the spiritual force contained in the compositions of the featured Chamberfest composers: Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.

As at the end of the first part, the rollicking No. 6 produced a tornado of applause, and all the musicians were called to a line at the front of the stage. One audience member brought a single red rose for Mr. Kahane.

As the audience of 700 left the Hall there wasn’t the usual ecstatic chatter about the music, but something of a glow of happiness on many faces. This had been a seminal evening, due of course to the producer Zarin Mehta and his staff, the wonderful musicians, the vision of Jeffrey Kahane, but mostly to a man dead for 265 years. Bach.