Home  Reviews  Articles  Calendar  Presenters  Add Event     
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE WITH SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Symphony
SOVIETS INVADE WEILL HALL, TAKE NO PRISONERS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 07, 2017
Bruno Ferrandis may be French, but he excels in Soviet repertoire. His Slavonic expertise was more than amply demonstrated at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s May 7 concert, where the program began joyfully with Khachaturian’s ballet suite from “Masquerade,” surged forward with Prokofiev’s second violin co...
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 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”).