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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
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.