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Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Symphony
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
Recital
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpour’s March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
Recital
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
Chamber
CONSUMMATE ENSEMBLE FROM THE MIRÓ IN WEILL
by Sonia Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Sunday, March 05, 2017
A March 5 Weill hall audience of 350 leaned in to share an intimate musical space and to hear the Miró String Quartet’s sterling concert. Starting with Haydn's Op. 20, No. 4, the four musicians seemed to want listeners to be enveloped in their music. The Miró plays with the feat of being four dist...
Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
Chamber
MUSIC AND ART MELD IN ZUCKERMAN TRIO CONCERT
by Nicki Bell
Friday, February 24, 2017
A Feb. 24 Weill Hall concert by the Pinchas Zuckerman Trio juxtaposed formidable music making with palpable associations about visual art. Brahms’ C Minor "Sonatensatz” (Scherzo) is a short youthful work for violin and piano, and was an opening call to action. Lively and vigorous playing alternated...
Chamber
THREE BEETHOVEN TRIOS BEGUILE AUDIENCE IN FEB. 19 WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Chamber music concerts featuring one composer can be tricky, but the Han/Setzer/Finckel trio made a Feb. 19 Weill Hall audience of 500 hear and to a degree see the boundless creativity of Beethoven. The G Major Trio, Op. 1, No. 2, opened the afternoon’s Beethoven odyssey and one wonders why it is t...
Chamber
AUTHORITATIVE BARTOK HIGHLIGHTS TETZLAFF VIOLIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Christian Tetzlaff’s Feb. 18 violin recital rolled along with lively and fresh readings of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert when the specter of Bartok’s granitic Second Sonata intervened. The sonic shock to the audience of 250 in Weill was palpable. Composed in 1923 the 20-minute two-movement work i...
Symphony
WHAT SOUND DO STAR-CROSSED LOVERS MAKE?
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so the Santa Rosa Symphony feted the occasion by telling and retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet, a tale ever the more poignant during our era of stark divisions. The first telling was from Berlioz; the second from Prokofiev. In between was Brahms’ monu...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Marin Center / Saturday, March 12, 2016
Polish Baltic Philharmonic Orchestra. Boguslaw David, conductor. Marcin Koziak, piano; Agata Szymczewska, violin

Polish Baltic Philharmonic Orchestra

BEETHOVEN'S SYMPHONIC DRAMA PERVADES POLISH ORCHESTRA'S MARIN CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 12, 2016

European orchestras on an American tour face a pesky single concert program decision – popular or provocative repertoire? The Polish Baltic Philharmonic landed squarely March 12 on the first option, a conventional all-Beethoven afternoon.

A Marin Center audience of 900 in San Rafael heard the 55 musicians from Warsaw in the concert’s opening Egmont Overture, Op. 84. It was a performance that caught the somber drama of the nine-minute work, and drama was the operative word for the entire concert. Acoustics in the fan-shaped hall always sound to me direct and with minimal reverberation, and strong upper string power in the Egmont often covered cellos and basses.

Conductor Boguslaw David moved the Overture briskly, and that tempo continued with the E-Flat Piano Concerto, Op. 73, that closed the first half. Marcin Koziak gave an impressive but mostly routine reading of the solo part. Performances of the “Emperor” Concerto seem to fall between the architectural and fastidious, and the heroic and heaven storming. My interest has always centered on the latter, and Mr. Koziak’s view this day stressed the symmetry and cohesive aspects of the score and left sonorous voice leading and pianistic energy alone. Heavens were never approached.

In the Allegro the music proceeded in an animated manner with Mr. Marzin playing half-pedaled runs, fast trills, several intriguing inner voices and the less than ferocious 12 big repeated chords mid way. Duos with oboe and bassoon were lovely, and the horn volume was assured. The short cadenza with bright three-note trills led into a fast-paced long coda where horn color was foremost and dramatic impact was robust.

Mr. David moved along the spiritual Adagio in many long descending phrases that on balance needed more relaxation between cantabile and the many short crescendo sections.

The same approach continued in the finale, the pianist sticking to the score (no leaning on ritards or left-hand octave doublings) and the conductor staying safe with a stable tempo and smooth orchestra textures. It was a well-rehearsed and convincing “Emperor” that had a taste of the prosaic.

Histrionics are part of the monumental C Minor Symphony (Fifth), and Mr. David drew from his Orchestra a performance that was both muscular and impeccably played. Conducting from score as he did throughout, Mr. David’ s driving interpretation highlighted the compressed themes and sharply etched groups of the three famous quick notes and the one that is louder, longer and lower in pitch. The character here was urgent and violent. Though never really quiet, the second movement’s best moments were with the interplay of soft, long-held notes from the oboe, flute, clarinet and bassoon. Sitting stage right, the cellos finally were heard with their inherent richness. The conductor’s control of dynamics was deft and always careful.

In the final two Allegro movements, especially the last one, the march-like rhythms held sway and the many false cadences demonstrated the composer’s genius of extravagant symphonic power and mastery.
Mr. David is not a flamboyant conductor in physical podium movement, but he kept the boisterous finale away from raged attacks and releases, and thus the impact on the audience was predictable but no less potent.

A rainy afternoon moved some in the spacious hall toward a quick exit, but the conductor commandeered a stage microphone and in flawless English spoke about the Polish’s 42-concert US tour and the delight his ensemble was having with making music in so many venues. An encore followed, a minor key Dvorak waltz that was over too quickly.

Mr. David coquettishly said from the stage that there would be one more, and that it would be familiar. And it was, a raucous performance of Souza’s Stars and Stripes Forever that generated an additional standing ovation.