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Chamber
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
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...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Marin Symphony / Sunday, November 01, 2015
Alasdair Neale, conductor. Gleb Ivanov, piano

Conductor Alasdair Neale

FIERY AND SPIRITUAL RUSSIAN WORKS OPEN MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON

by Kate Gilpin
Sunday, November 01, 2015

The Marin Symphony’s season opening concert has been a high point of North Bay musical life since Eisenhower was president. The theme in this 63rd year is “Hear and Now,” and the Nov. 1 gala held at the Marin Center Auditorium was auspicious. The Symphony’s longtime music director, Alasdair Neale, conducted.

You can’t beat the Russians for spectacle, and this program featured two of the most beloved works in the great Russian Romantic canon, Rachmaninoff’s D Minor Piano Concerto, composed in 1909, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 from 1888.

The Rachmaninoff is known for its technical difficulty as well as its soaring beauty, and was performed wonderfully by the Russian pianist Gleb Ivanov. The Rachmaninoff 3rd Concerto is a richly rewarding work, from the enchanting folk-melodic opening theme of the first movement Allegro through the work’s labyrinth of development and elaboration. The Intermezzo-Adagio movement, with its opulent theme and variations, is a languorous piece that includes its own cadenza-like section as well as an irresistible waltz passage that Chopin and Ravel might have approved. This lovely second movement transitioned seamlessly into the high-spirited third, with its quotations from the earlier movements. Mr. Ivanov played with brilliance and fire, thrilling in the more technically challenging sections of the work, though he could have given a more meditative and lingering interpretation to the slower sections.

The packed house responded with a standing ovation, and Mr. Ivanov played Debussy’s Reflets dans l’eau as an encore, and it was all water, like a deep sigh after the fire of the Rachmaninoff Concerto.

Following intermission the Tchaikovsky E Minor (Op. 64) was heard. It’s an epic work, a cyclical composition like the F Minor Fourth Symphony, where the major themes are repeated in all four movements, appearing in altered forms again and again. Before raising his baton the conductor addressed the audience, reminding them that there has been a “tradition” over the years for audiences to confuse the long fermata that occurs about two-thirds of the way through the final movement with the end of the work. He requested that the audience wait until his hands were actually at his sides at the end of the piece before applauding. Hilarity ensued and the large audience was happy to cooperate.

The performance was inspiring. The famous notes from the clarinets in the opening Andante-Allegro draw back the curtain of a saga as surely as if they were saying “Once upon a time . . .” As the ideas unfolded they evoked feelings of war, revolution, turmoil, and passion in a way that had seldom been heard before in a Tchaikovsky symphonic work. Throughout the four movements, that eight-note theme returned, changed by added meaning. Heroism, romance, it was all there in this performance.

The concert featured beautiful solo work, including a truly singing horn solo from Darby Hinshaw in the second Andante cantabile movement and precise wind playing throughout. The third-movement Valse combined grace and verve, along with the composer’s melodic spirituality. The fourth movement, with its striking but transformed theme (from the first movement) now in the Major, was played with a majesty and nobility. The ensemble delivered a rich and shining rendering of this work, renowned for its trajectory of tragedy to triumph.

It was a hugely satisfying opening to what promises to be a banner season for the Marin Symphony.