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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...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
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...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Vallejo Symphony / Sunday, January 29, 2017
Marc Taddei, conductor. Zlatomir Fung, cello

Cellist Zlatomir Fung (l) and Conductor Marc Taddei Jan. 29

FUNG TRIUMPHS IN SHOSTAKOVICH CONCERTO WITH VSO

by Elizabeth Warnimont
Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Vallejo Symphony Orchestra presented their season’s second concert Jan. 29 in Vallejo’s Hogan Auditorium, devoted to early Haydn, middle Shostakovich and Beethoven’s ground-breaking “Eroica” Symphony.

In remarks to the audiences of nearly 400, Conductor Marc Taddei characterized Haydn’s Symphony No. 7 in C Major (“Noon”) as a work of raw talent, written before the classical-era master developed his more mature and refined, signature composition style. The piece is built on a simple, even structure, with distinct variations on a brief melodic themes. Here there is much repetition in rhythm and melody, though surprisingly the piece lacks power and even variation in mood.

Part of a triptych of Haydn Symphonies (the season’s first concert featured the “Morning” Symphony, with the “Evening” to come in March) the work began with a beautiful mixture of winds and strings, setting a mood of pleasantness and contentment, full of color in its balanced blend of sound. As the movement got rolling those segments of sonic harmony and clear phrasing from the horns with well-synchronized strings became only intermittent.

The more emotional second (adagio) movement sounded frothy and in one sense refreshing in its bright innocence. Mr. Taddei drew a masterful performance from the VSO, highlighting the youthful work’s complexity in the concluding menuetto and allegro movements, with standout playing from double bassist Andy McCorkle. Wind playing seems timid in the former, but Bonnie Lockett’s piccolo playing in the latter was exemplary. Mr. Taddei chose a quick tempo in the finale that was exciting.

Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1, Op. 107, began simply with a four-note theme from solo cellist Vlatomir Fung, and the theme was quickly taken up by the string sections and built to considerable pulsating power, The conductor controlled the frenetic pace of there second moderato movement, a sharp contrast to the steady rhythms of the opening allegretto movement. The playing in this exciting part was soothed by music from bassoonist Karla Ekholm, juxtaposed by the urgency of the solo part and the bass and cello section playing. Here Mr. Fung’s bow control in the demanding solo part was masterful. At this point the music, with continuous second, third and fourth movements, turns to long periods of slow quiet. Even the timpani began to sound overly muted. A startling punctuation by chimes contributed to this dreamy mood, as the cello phrases spanned the from the instrument’s highest to its lowest registers, but so gently as to maximize the dreamy feel.

The Concerto, written in 1959, concluded with an allegro where both the orchestra and Mr. Fung increased volume but strangely not their passion. Seven powerful notes from timpanist John Weeks preceded the ending and fulsome audience applause.

Mr. Taddei has in the past spoken of Beethoven’s E-Flat Major Symphony, the third, as “the most important symphony ever written.” From a historical perspective, the Op. 55 work has manifold innovations and is said to reflect the ideals of the French Revolution that occurred more than15 years prior to the first public performance in 1805. Mr. Taddei’s interpretation caught the grandeur and heroism of the opening allegro con brio and the two forceful E Flat Chords. String playing was quickly dominant along with energetic wind playing. In the following adagio the mournful Marcia Funebre seemed too brief and inconspicuous, but in the scherzo the flute section lent a joyous and confident sonority, sounding wonderful from the critic’s seat left of center orchestra. Here in the allegro finale the violin playing, lead by concertmaster Joyce Lee, was potently elegant.

The VSO’s next program will be March 12 in Hogan, and will feature Haydn’s Symphony No. 8, Kabalevsky’s Violin Concerto (Kay Stern, soloist) and Tchaikovsky’s epochal last Symphony, No. 6, in B in Minor (“Pathétique”).