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Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Recital
NOVACEK'S 2ND HALF TRIFECTA SCORES AT MENDO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Modern classical piano recitals are in two parts, with longer and perhaps more profound music proceeding perhaps shorter and usually stimulating lighter fare. In John Novacek’s July 13 Mendocino Music Festival recital the best playing came unexpectedly in the eight abbreviated works comprising the ...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Sonoma County Philharmonic / Sunday, January 24, 2016
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Bruce Chrisp, trombone

Trombonist Bruce Chrisp

SOLO AND ENSEMBLE BRASS PEAL POWERFULLY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 24, 2016

Known for its novel programming, the Sonoma County Philharmonic has frequently engaged local soloists, with flutist Kathleen Reynolds and pianists Lauren Xie and Marilyn Thompson coming quickly to mind. In their Jan. 23 concert, featuring German composers, conductor Norman Gamboa united a rare mid 19th mini concerto for trombone with another Sonoma County soloist, Bruce Chrisp.

Playing the Ferdinand David Op. 4 Concertino, Mr. Chrisp gave the 1841 piece a convincing performance without score before 250 in the Santa Rosa High School’s Performing Arts Center. His control of the seemingly unwieldy instrument was surefooted, even when the notes jumped from the low register to repeated and drawn-out high pitches. Thematic statements were boldly projected and the pesky trills confidently attacked.

There was no break between the Allegro and the melodramatic Andante and Mr. Chrisp was impressive in swelling volume in the low register and the beautiful long-held note at the end of the movement.
Most of the audience held their breath until the note stopped.

Music in the concluding Allegro was a little operatic in places, tuneful with a predictable cadenza and a heroically played ending from the soloist. Respond to loud bravos, Mr. Chrisp accepted a bouquet and impishly stick it into the horn of his ineffable instrument.

Brahms’ E Minor Symphony (Op. 98) closed the concert, a conservative format work composed at the time of Wagner’s symphonic radicalism and Mahler’s first Symphony. It may be “old fashioned” in style but its beauty and craftsmanship are beyond reproach. Horns are critical in the opening Allegro and Mr. Gamboa gave the SoCoPhil’s horn quartet, led by Eric Anderson and Bruce Blaikie, full rein. The lovely opening themes were played invitingly and in a dialogue between the first and second violins. Woodwinds (clarinetists Nick Xenelis and Cathy Brooks) and pizzicato strings played a vigorous variant of the first theme under Mr. Gamboa’s restrained direction.

This trenchantly grim movement came to a close with timpanist Walt Bodley’s powerful strokes, and the slow movement began with idyllic music from the horns, and later from flutists Emily Reynolds and Debra Scheuerman. The cutoffs were good and the conductor’s control developed the majesty of the writing.

In the third movement Ms. Reynolds’ piccolo and Mary Gillespie-Greenberg’s ringing triangle made the ever-changing harmonies in a rambunctious Scherzo sound almost giddy.

Brahms wrote a powerful Passacaglia to close his Fourth Symphony, using a form of variations (32 in all) on a repeated bass or reiterated harmonic progression. Woodwinds and brass (now joined for the first time by trombones) are prominent, with rolling drums, and Mr. Gamboa had his hands full keeping continuity and clarity in the tempo changes. There is passion and release in this movement, all driving to a conclusion that blanketed some of the string sounds. The ovation was long enough for the conductor to recognize individual musicians and one section.

Weber’s Overture to the 1824 Opera “Oberon” opened the program, a merry and suave ten-minute work that lacked string power but featured potent brass playing.