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Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Recital
NOVACEK'S 2ND HALF TRIFECTA SCORES AT MENDO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Modern classical piano recitals are in two parts, with longer and perhaps more profound music proceeding perhaps shorter and usually stimulating lighter fare. In John Novacek’s July 13 Mendocino Music Festival recital the best playing came unexpectedly in the eight abbreviated works comprising 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.