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Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Recital
PIANISTIC COMMAND IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, October 08, 2017
Nikolay Khozyainov’s Oct. 8 debut at the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall was one of those rare moments in a young artist’s career when a performance approaches perfection. From the opening notes of Beethoven’s A-Flat Major Sonata (Op. 110) through a delightful recital ending transcription, the ...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Festival Orchestra, Alan Pollack, conductor. David McCarroll, violin

Violinist David McCarroll

HEROISM AND SUBTLETY IN ALL-BEETHOVEN MMF CONCERT

by Paula Mulligan
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Much of the emphasis of this year’s Mendocino Music Festival has been about Beethoven, and a series of small venue performances with Beethoven lectures by Festival co-director Susan Waterfall preceded the July 20 orchestra performance in the big tent on Mendocino’s main street.

From the opening bars of the composer’s D Major (Op. 61) Violin Concerto it was apparent that the orchestra was well prepared. The exposition was played with clean attacks, precision and wonderfully shaped dynamics.  The strong punctuations of timpanist Tyler Mack and short, incisive string chords contrasted beautifully with the lyrical threads that are so much at the heart of Beethoven, and part of his innovation as a composer.

After a long orchestral introduction the entrance of violinist David McCarroll had an indescribable sweetness, never saccharine, but with exquisite purity of tone.  Mr. McCarroll plays with elegance and great depth, as well as a flawless technique that allows him to express what he feels in the music from 1806.   

Near the end of the first movement it was startling to hear an altogether different cadenza from what one usually hears, and percussion playing was part of the cadenza, joining the violin solo in a way that was utterly new to me.  Research revealed that it had been the cadenza used in the piano version of this piece in which Beethoven himself was the soloist, and is rarely performed.  Mr. Mack’s playing was a crucial component of this work and he played with exquisite precision as Mr. McCarroll demonstrated his virtuosity and musicality. 

The second Larghetto movement, dreamy and lyrical, found the woodwinds providing support and melodic lines of their own, and flowed beautifully. Near the movement’s end another short transitional cadenza lead into the whimsical theme of the last movement, and showed the humor that generated quite audible audience chuckles.  It was a thoroughly delightful performance.  Conductor Alan Pollack drew from the orchestra sensitive support for the soloist and never covered his most tender pianissimos.  Mr. McCarroll, while brilliant with the bow, did not depend on brilliance alone, but on the sweet and understated expression that left many of the 500 in the audience leaning forward in their seats to catch every subtle nuance.

The E-Flat Major Symphony (Eroica), Op. 55, came at a turning point in Beethoven’s tumultuous life, and the two strong chords at the opening of the Allegro con Brio showed the precision and incisiveness that Mr. Pollack extracted from the Festival orchestra. Nothing tentative here, whether it is in the suppressed excitement of a barely audible pianissimo or the buildup to yet another crescendo.  It is an exciting work that requires orchestral virtuosity from every section.  The conductor paid minute attention to details that make the difference between a competent performance and one that is truly musical, with each phrase shaped and moving forward. 

In the second movement, Marcia Funebre, the performance was contained and dignified with beautifully articulated strings, and a fine bass section that lead into each phrase with an unusual flourish in lower registers. Within this movement there are still contrasts, with the woodwinds providing well executed counter melodies.  The Scherzo began softly, and once again passages in pianissimo retained rhythmic vitality that kept the music moving and evolving while retaining a sprightly and humorous feel.

The Finale opened with a spectacular downhill run in the strings that resolved into a pizzicato passage with the woodwinds.   As the theme turned into a fugue, each line remained clear and uncluttered, having a balanced value and weight. The brass playing shone in a mighty climax. Elegant arpeggios from clarinetist Eric Kritz framed a return to a more restful theme, and brass sections leaders Bill Klingelhoffer (horn) and Scott Macomber (trumpet) brought another buildup to sonorous peak before the music dropped back to calm.  This movement was a wild but wonderful roller-coaster ride with the opening theme restated before a release of tension in a famous and oft repeated sequence of tonic/dominant /tonic ending that is one of this composer’s trademarks. 

In a pre-concert event Marin County lecturer Kayleen Asbo spoke of musical alchemy, spirituality and the Gospel of Thomas.