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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
Green Music Center / Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie Fur Alte Musik Berlin

Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin

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 ties or shawls to socks and glass frames, the musicians, standing to play, engaged the audience immediately with sonic elegance, musical humor and clarity of purpose.

The opening piece was Telemann’s Overture Suite in B-flat, "Les Nations.” This suite set the stage for the theme of "foreign affairs." After a festive, then dance-like overture and  two minuets played with exquisite sensibility, the music contained character pieces depicting "Turcs, Suisse, Muscovites, Portugais Anciens, Portugais modernes, the lame and the runners."  Musical humor abounded with bold, rough and dramatic leaps for the Turks, then mournful moments alternating with lightness for the Swiss. The Muscovites were introduced with a silly and ominous bassoon bell sound alternating cleverly with cello and bass.

Then Portugal had the musicians smiling as they traded dotted rhythms and sudden accented motifs in the lower strings. Finally, the runners were fleet and the limping ones not. The audience found it all was entertaining and full of jolly sounds in good company.

Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049, followed the Telemann.. This beloved piece, with three soloists, violin and two recorders (Anna Fusek and Xenia Loffler) juxtaposed with a larger string ensemble, soared in the Akamus performance and transcended traditional molds. The ensemble was clear and balanced. The musicians breathed and lived the rhythms and musical dialogues. The andante slow movement was heartbreaking in expressive power. Here, suspended  dissonances and chromatic gestures filled the air and were moving and consoling. It is said that Baroque audiences in the Baroque era were moved to tears by the affective power of music and this concert was testimony to that. The presto movement followed "attacca" with dazzling fugal counterpoint, jazz-like riffs and the solo violin bow of Mr. Forck seemingly on fire. Bach's compositional magic swept onward and went into ever-widening realms of imagination and musical discoveries.

A happy crowd returned after intermission for Handel's Suite from Almira, HWV 1, his first opera.. This suite was comprised of instrumental sections written at the age of nineteen. and contains an international group of dances including a set called "The Masque of the Continents.” The playing of the overture had grandeur, as did the wandering of the chaconne and a fast courante with Ms. Fusek’s recorder solo. The sarabande was outstanding for its plaintive and hushed beauty, allowing the lute solo responses between string motifs. A fast and noisy bourree led to a courtly minuet with two oboes, a lively Rigaudon, a Rondeau with busy cello and bass lines, and a Ritornello. Many varieties of instruments were featured.

Vivaldi's Concerto for two oboes in d minor featured Baroque oboists Michael Bosche and Xenia Loffler. There were beautiful interactions between soloists and orchestra. The largo with the two oboes and continuo was highly expressive and the allegro conclusion had exciting fireworks following unison statements. Vivaldi's music is always fresh.

Jean Fery Rebel, French composer in the court of Louis XIV, continued the afternoon's focus on the variety of dance forms of Europe. His suite, "Les Characteres de la Dance,” was performed in a lighthearted and joyous manner. The  fourteen dances were miniature treats linked together in a pastiche, some of the individual dances only eight measures long, with changes of meter and key defining the arrival of each next dance.

Loud applause and calls of bravo brought the orchestra back for a lively encore, “The Attack on the Windmill” from Telemann's seven-part “Don Quixote” Suite.