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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 it seems to be on almost every...
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 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.