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Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
Chamber
TRIO NAVARRO'S POPULAR FARE IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Long time Classical Sonoma readers may recall many Trio Navarro concert reviews that lauded their virtuosity and interest in rarely played repertoire. The April 8 concert in Schroeder Hall before 85 chamber music fans featured sterling performances but had a mostly conservative menu of popular trio...
Recital
KENNER'S ALL POLISH RECITAL HAS PADEREWSKI RARITY
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Kevin Kenner’s April 8 recital at Dominican University’s Angelico Hall had been advertised as all-Chopin, but he added a detour into another seminal Polish composer-pianist, Paderewski. Several of Mr. Kenner’s teachers were Poles, he speaks Polish, and he navigated at the piano both composers’ deman...
Symphony
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE VOICE AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, April 08, 2018
In an April 8 Santa Rosa Symphony concert filled to the brim with instruments--electric violin, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard samplers, harps, piano and myriad drums, gongs and bells, to say nothing of winds, brass and strings--the instrument that came out on top was the hum...
Chamber
VOM FESTIVAL TRIO CHARMS WITH CHAMBER MIX, AND HUMMEL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 31, 2018
At the core of the group of Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) musicians is an ensemble of trios and duos, and as a trio March 31 Festival founders cellist Tanya Tomkins and pianist Eric Zivian joined British violinist Monica Huggett for a chamber music concert in the Green Music Center’s Schro...
Choral and Vocal
GOOD FRIDAY REQUIEM FILLS INCARNATION
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 30, 2018
Maurice Duruflé’s short and intense Requiem has been heard in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation before, but the March 30 Good Friday performance was stripped down in the number of performers, combining Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir with musical underpinning from organist Robert Youn...
Symphony
HAMELIN'S HUSKY MOOD IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Convention in piano recitals has the artist coming on stage and playing. Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin walked on Schroeder Hall’s stage March 25 and didn’t play for six minutes, chatting with the audience. A risk for some artists. Then most programs include a contemporary or rarely play...
Recital
VIRTUOSIC VARIATIONS IN MORGAN'S SCHROEDER ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Organist Robert Huw Morgan’s artistry spun through the web of early variation form in a Mar. 18 recital on Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh organ. Mr. Morgan, Stanford University’s resident organist, performs a wide range of repertoire, but as he said in comments to the audience, he loves when h...
Symphony
ORFF AND HINDEMITH SONIC SPLENDOR AT FINAL SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 17, 2018
Sonoma County Philharmonic concerts are continually artistically successful but on the Santa Rosa High School’s stage the orchestra rarely numbers above 40, and in the 900-seat hall audiences can be scant. Violinists can be in short supply. An opposite scene occurred at the March 17/18 concert set...
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.