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Chamber
THREE BEETHOVEN TRIOS BEGUILE AUDIENCE IN FEB. 19 WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Chamber music concerts featuring one composer can be tricky, but the Han/Setzer/Finckel trio made a Feb. 19 Weill Hall audience of 500 hear and to a degree see the boundless creativity of Beethoven. The G Major Trio, Op. 1, No. 2, opened the afternoon’s Beethoven odyssey and one wonders why it is t...
Chamber
AUTHORITATIVE BARTOK HIGHLIGHTS TETZLAFF VIOLIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Christian Tetzlaff’s Feb. 18 violin recital rolled along with lively and fresh readings of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert when the specter of Bartok’s granitic Second Sonata intervened. The sonic shock to the audience of 250 in Weill was palpable. Composed in 1923 the 20-minute two-movement work i...
Symphony
WHAT SOUND DO STAR-CROSSED LOVERS MAKE?
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so the Santa Rosa Symphony feted the occasion by telling and retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet, a tale ever the more poignant during our era of stark divisions. The first telling was from Berlioz; the second from Prokofiev. In between was Brahms’ monu...
Chamber
GOOD OLD WINE IN GOOD OLD BOTTLES AT VOM CONCERT
by Jeff Chan
Saturday, February 11, 2017
February 11 was the first day of sunshine in Sonoma County after nine days of rain, but a nearly full house of music lovers chose to spend their afternoon in Schroeder Hall instead of being outside, soaking up the warm sun. There were two equally compelling reasons to attend this concert, which fea...
Symphony
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 Sympho...
Chamber
ENSEMBLE PERFECTION IN KLR TRIO'S 40TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Longevity has its place in classical music. Composers and especially conductors live a long time, and venerable piano trios can linger for years. One can recall the great Cortot-Thibaud-Casals staying on the international scene for decades, and more recently Stern-Istomin-Rose, Oistrakh-Oborin-Knu...
Symphony
SUBLIME MOZART CLARINET CONCERTO TOPS SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Sonoma County Philharmonic’s long history of featuring soloists from the neighborhood struck gold again Jan. 28 with a ravishing Mozart Clarinet Concerto performance with soloist Roy Zajac. Before an audience of 300 the Santa Rosa High School hall the A Major Concerto (K. 626) unfolded gracefully w...
Recital
RISKY SPEED IN POTENT LUO RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Each half of pianist Wei Luo’s Schroeder Hall recital Jan. 22 contained beguiling interpretations and consummate technical command of Shostakovich and Albeniz works, but each half finished with less than exalted playing. Two of Shostakovich’s Op. 87 Preludes and Fugues opened the recital, from the ...
Recital
COLORFUL SCHUBERT AND CHOPIN WARM WEILL HALL IN AX RECITAL
by Nicki Bell
Friday, January 20, 2017
On a stormy winter evening Jan. 20 a rainbow of colorful Schubert and Chopin music came from the fingers, feet and heart of pianist Emanuel Ax.  Playing at the Weill Hall for the first time, this recital was a tribute to beauty in the arts. It conveyed the value and glory of balance, lyricism and el...
Chamber
A MUSICAL ODYSSEY IN RIVITING PRESTON HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 15, 2017
A standing room audience warmly greeted pianist Carolyn Steinbuck Jan. 15 in the season’s second Ft. Bragg Center For the Arts concert in Mendocino’s plebian Preston Hall. Ms. Steinbuck, to be joined in the program’s second half by clarinetist Eric Kritz and cellist Marcia Sloane, programmed Schube...
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”).