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SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
CHAMBER REVIEW
New Falcon String Quartet / Sunday, March 6, 2016
Joseph Gold and Don Kristianson, violin; Raphael Gold, viola; Burke Schuchmann, cello

Violinist Joseph Gold

NEW FALCON'S IMPRESSIVE VALLEJO CONCERT DEBUT

by James Roy MacBean
Sunday, March 6, 2016

The New Falcon String Quartet gave its debut performance March 6 under the aegis of Vallejo Symphony Orchestra in Vallejo’s First Presbyterian Church.

Formed only five weeks earlier, arising phoenix-like out of the ashes of another group, which was to bear the name Peregrine Quartet, and New Falcon now comprises musicians who have performed at the Mendocino Music Festival. The Quartet consists of violinists Joseph Gold and Dan Kristianson, Raphael Gold on viola, and cellist Burke Schuchmann. All are experienced performers as members of San Francisco Bay Area symphonies.

The program included Mozart’s Divertimento in F Major, K. 138, Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2, and Dvořák’s String Quartet in F Major, Op. 96, “American.” Opening the program was the Divertimento, written weeks after Mozart returned to Salzburg with his father in December 1771. The third Divertimento’s two outer movements are fast-paced and feature Mr. Gold’s virtuosity, but whose tone seemed occasionally shrill. The middle or second movement is a slow Andante and a fine interplay and exchange of leading phrases between violin and cello. This lovely Andante failed to flow smoothly, and it risked bogging down in all-too slow tempos. By contrast, the two brisk outer movements were noteworthy for fine ensemble and taut execution.

Mendelssohn’s four-movement work was written in 1837 and opened with an extended elaboration of themes the composer would later use in his E Minor Violin Concerto. It began with Mr. Kristianson sounding out the first theme in the low range of his instrument, and later there were pungent pizzicato plucking by Mr. Schuchmann. In the succeeding Scherzo the first violin played quite high in its register. A lovely Andante followed, introduced by viola, violin and the cello. When the additional violin entered, it played a sweetly sentimental melody over the bass. The final movement (Presto Agitato) began with an all-out attack, followed by more cello pizzicato. A lilting final phrase was deftly developed and lead to a rousing tutti finale.

Following intermission Dvořák’s iconic F Major Quartet was heard. The work was written in 1893 while Dvořák was living in the Czech-American farming community of Spillville, Iowa. Traces of American spirituals or Native American rhythms may or may not be found in this work, but the composer himself noted that Haydn’s music was much on his mind at this time, and as a consequence he wrote straightforward melodic lines, much to the popular success of this work. The opening viola theme featured Raphael Gold’s burnished sound. The Lentosecond movement opened with shimmering violins over pizzicato cello, and soon Mr. Schuchmann gracefully stated the principal theme.

The final movement is a gay rondo and proceeded rapidly to a brisk conclusion with unexpected modulations through related and sometimes remote keys. There was no encore.

On balance the New Falcon’s concert was an impressive debut.