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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
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.