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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
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”).