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Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Piano Sonoma / Tuesday, August 01, 2017
Emi Ferguson, flute; Peter Dugan and Angie Zhang, piano; Down Na, violin; Julia Glenn, violin and viola; Michael Dahlberg, cello;

Flutist Emi Ferguson at Piano Sonoma Festival

YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT

by
Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in-residence program attracting young musicians from leading music schools.

The evening began with playing of a section of Bach’s Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), Nos. 16-24 and Aria, arranged for strings. A portion of the entire set was featured at each of the four concerts, this time with pianist Angie Zhang, flautist Emi Ferguson, violinist Doori Na, violist Julia Glenn and cellist Michael Dahlberg. From the grand 16th variation “Ouverture” with its pomp and circumstance through the lilting 24th variation “Canone All’ Ottava,” the ensemble playing was strikingly good. These are polished young musicians already equipped with the interpretive skills of seasoned players. It served as a great start to what was a spectacular evening of music making.

Pianist Peter Dugan then offered Beethoven’s Bagatelles, Opus 126, and he is an artist with great expressive skills and has that special performance gene that allows him to communicate directly with an audience. His animated playing was infectious and yet he did it without any of the tawdry pianistic stage gestures one often sees. These are quiet pieces filled with emotion and Mr. Dugan could not have played them any better.

Next came the duo of Ms. Na and Ms. Zhang in a moving exposition of Mozart’s E Minor Piano and Violin Sonata, K. 304. These two seemed to be musical soul mates, as the instruments blended together to create a glorious result in this short work (under 14 minutes) that was written in 1778. For such youthful artists to play at this level was a joy to hear and see. Ms. Zhang was particularly sensitive in her playing and exhibited a thorough understanding of the sonata and its challenges. Mr. Na followed suit with elegant playing in the often somber second movement, in a tasteful partnership with Ms. Zhang. The enthusiastic audience expressed its approval.

The program closed with Haydn’s Piano Trio in G Major, Hob. XV:15, featuring Ms. Ferguson, Mr. Dahlberg and Mr. Dugan. In pre-performance remarks it was stated that Haydn loved to laugh, and the audience was asked to see if they heard any musical jokes, so to speak, in the score. The 20-minute piece from 1790 is certainly light-hearted and frothy in parts, and yet what the ensemble playing revealed was the rich harmonic contours of the score, especially during the andante movement. One literally had to restrain oneself from humming along. Ms. Ferguson’s sprightly flute virtuosity conveyed the emotional content of each movement beautifully. The piano line never dominated the performance and the three musicians had excellent ensemble.

It’s clear that the Piano Sonoma program has attracted serious artists in a Festival of charming music making.