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Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
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...
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.