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Recital
SCHUMANN AND BARTOK HIGHLIGHT BRONFMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Lee Ormasa
Friday, April 21, 2017
Those people once addicted to the “Angry Birds” game application likely suffered an auditory flashback during the opening measures of the allegro from Bartok’s Suite, Op. 14, the opening work in Yefim Bronfman’s April 21 recital at Weill Hall. The repetitive opening figures of the Bartok were...
Symphony
HULKING MAHLER "TITAN" AT SO CO PHIL'S SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 08, 2017
A composer’s first symphony rarely gives a clear indication of what beautiful complexities will follow over the years. Early Mozart and Tchaikovsky are examples, and the big exceptions to this axiom are the “firsts” of Beethoven, Shostakovich and Mahler. Tackling Mahler ‘s D Major Symphony (No. 1,...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY STAYS CLOSE TO HOME
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Santa Rosa Symphony concerts usually feature high-powered soloists imported from afar, but for their recent “Bring on the Strings” concert set, they stuck close to home, thrusting their principal violin, viola and cello into the limelight. The violinist (Joseph Edelberg) and the violist (Elizabeth P...
Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Symphony
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
Recital
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpour’s March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
Recital
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
Chamber
CONSUMMATE ENSEMBLE FROM THE MIRÓ IN WEILL
by Sonia Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Sunday, March 05, 2017
A March 5 Weill hall audience of 350 leaned in to share an intimate musical space and to hear the Miró String Quartet’s sterling concert. Starting with Haydn's Op. 20, No. 4, the four musicians seemed to want listeners to be enveloped in their music. The Miró plays with the feat of being four dist...
Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
Chamber
MUSIC AND ART MELD IN ZUCKERMAN TRIO CONCERT
by Nicki Bell
Friday, February 24, 2017
A Feb. 24 Weill Hall concert by the Pinchas Zuckerman Trio juxtaposed formidable music making with palpable associations about visual art. Brahms’ C Minor "Sonatensatz” (Scherzo) is a short youthful work for violin and piano, and was an opening call to action. Lively and vigorous playing alternated...
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”).