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Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
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.