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Chamber
PERFORMER AS PROMOTER: CLARA SCHUMANN AND MUSICAL SALONS CLOSE VOM FESTIVAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 28, 2019
The July 28 closing performance of the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival could have been subtitled "Friends", as it was devoted to works by both Clara and Robert Schumann, and those of their friends and protégés Brahms and virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim, with whom Clara toured extensively...
Chamber
ROMANTIC CHAMBER WORKS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 27, 2019
Now in its 5th season the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented July 27 a concert titled “My Brilliant Sister,” featuring Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s compositions for combinations of voice, fortepiano and strings. Fanny and her brother Felix were close, and Felix occasionally published ...
Symphony
ROMANTIC DREAMS AT THE MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kayleen Asbo
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Romanticism, contrary to many popular perceptions, wasn’t simply about diving into the habitat of the heart. Romanticism began as a literary movement that elevated the power of nature as a transcendent force and sought with keen nostalgia to rediscover the wisdom of the past. The Romantics in both l...
Chamber
CHAUSSON CONCERTO SHINES IN A VISIONARY'S SALON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Ernest Chausson’s four-movement Concerto in D Major for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet (1891) is neither concerto nor sonata nor symphony, but it somehow manages to be all three, especially when played with fire and conviction by an accomplished soloist. Those incendiary and emotional elements w...
Chamber
EUROPEAN SALON MUSIC CAPTIVATES AT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Two stunning programs of 19th and 20th century chamber music were presented on July 21 and 28 as part of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival at the Hanna Center in Sonoma. Festival founders and directors pianist Eric Zivian and cellist Tanya Tompkins were both on hand to contribute brilliantly at ...
Chamber
ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL COMBINATIONS IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 20, 2019
A Lovely summer afternoon in Sonoma Valley, an excellent small concert hall, enthusiastic audience, exciting musicians and creative programming with interesting story lines. All these were combined July 20 at a Valley of the Moon Festival concert titled “An Italian in Paris.” This is the fifth seaso...
Opera
'ELIXIR' A WELCOME TONIC IN SPRIGHTLY ANNUAL MMF OPERA
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 19, 2019
In most of the Mendocino Music Festival’s 33 seasons a single evening is given over to a staged opera, with bare bones sets, lighting, costumes, minimal cast and short length. No Wagner or Verdi here, no multiple acts and complicated production demands. Light and frothy are the usual, and so it wa...
Recital
PUNGENT WALTZES AND VIRTUOSITY IN LADEUR'S SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
San Francisco based pianist Jeffrey LaDeur has become one of the most sought-after North Bay virtuosi, and cemented that reputation July 17 in a short but eclectic recital in Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village Chamber Music Series. Before 140 in the Village’s auditorium Mr. LaDeur began with Schubert...
Choral and Vocal
NOBLE BRAHMS REQUIEM PERFORMANCE CLOSES SONOMA BACH'S SEASON
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 01, 2019
Sonoma Bach, conducted by Robert Worth, presented a truly grand finale to their 2018-19 "Light Out of Darkness" season in two sold out Schroeder Hall performances June 1 and 2. The program "A Human Requiem" was received rapturously with a well-deserved standing ovation for the main work, Brahms' ...
Chamber
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six song...
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.