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Chamber
BEETHOVEN FEATURED IN SF TRIO'S OCCIDENTAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 19, 2020
Conventional repertoire in uncommonly good performances highlighted the San Francisco Piano Trio’s Jan. 19 concert in the Occidental Center for the Arts. Haydn’s No. 44 Trio (Hob. XV:28) came from late in his long career, when he was in and out of London, and received a sparkling reading that featu...
SIMONE PORTER ASPIRES TO STARDOM WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 12, 2020
The Sibelius violin concerto is one of several mountains that violin soloists need to ascend before they can lay claim to stardom. Hundreds make the attempt every year, but only a few reach the top. Simone Porter, who played the concerto with the Santa Rosa Symphony on Sunday afternoon, got close bu...
Choral and Vocal
ORPHEUS OF AMSTERDAM'S MUSIC IN SCHROEDER ORGAN CHORAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, January 10, 2020
“All over the map.” Sonoma Bach, directed by Bob Worth, has taken its audiences this season on journeys through many centuries and many lands. The programming is fresh and intriguing and the performers varied and creators of beauty and interest. The January 10 program was centered on organ works by...
Choral and Vocal
OLD NORTH GERMAN CAROLS IN SONOMA BACH'S SCHROEDER CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, December 15, 2019
“Cast off all sorrows…also dance in heavenly fashion.” A volume called Piae Cantiones was printed in 1582 in North Germany, lively songs going back to the 14th century, and this treasure trove provided material for numerous composers to arrange Christmas carols over following generations, from simp...
Symphony
EVERLASTING LIGHT AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Monday, December 09, 2019
The Mozart Requiem includes four intermittent vocal soloists, but the real star is the choir, which is featured in almost every movement. That stardom shone bright at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s memorable Requiem performance on Monday night. The soloists were good, but the choir was superb. Located wi...
Symphony
UNFINISHED AND FINNISH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 08, 2019
Having a new resident conductor on the podium for the Ukiah Symphony was an attractive invitation for a long-delayed visit to Mendocino College’s Center Theater Dec. 8. The insouciant Les Pfutzenreuter recently retired after decades of conducting the ensemble, replaced by Phillip Lenberg who also j...
Choral and Vocal
PRAERTORIUS IN RENAISSANCE GLORY FROM SONOMA BACH
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, November 16, 2019
Sonoma Bach Choir, in collaboration with Barefoot All-Stars Viol Consort and The Whole Noyse Brass Ensemble, presented “Sing Glorious Praetorius!” November 16 to an almost full Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. The Soloists were soprano Dianna Morgan, Christopher Fritzsche, (countertenor), m...
Symphony
ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL EXCITEMENT IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 16, 2019
Beginning with a scintillating reading of Rossini’s Overture to the Opera “Semiramide,” the Sonoma County Philharmonic performed a splendid program Nov. 16 in the Jackson Theater, and featured two additional works, one showcasing the winner of the San Francisco Conservatory’s Young Artist Award. It...
Chamber
SPIRITUAL LATE BEETHOVEN QUARTET HIGHLIGHTS MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 10, 2019
Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131, called “unparalleled in its inexhaustibility” by critic Thomas May, is a daunting challenge. Orchestral in concept, filled with wit and charm, melancholy and fury, it almost overwhelms listeners. Playing the frenetic Scherzo, a viol...
Symphony
MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANCE IN UNIQUE SRS CONCERT IN WEILL HALL
by Terry McNeill
Monday, November 04, 2019
It was a concert full of surprises Nov. 4 as the Santa Rosa Symphony responded to the area’s wild fires and evacuations with challenging, songful and somewhat unique music in Weill Hall. The last of a three-concert series titled "Master of the Modern Banjo" is reviewed here. The evening began with...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Sonoma County Philharmonic / Friday, June 15, 2018
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Hans Brightbill, cello

Norma Gamboa Congratulates Hans Brightbill After the Elgar Cello Concerto

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 programmed works that have partly been on past Orchestra concerts in Sonoma County, including Frank La Rocca’s Crossing the Rubicon, the Symphonic Picture from Porgy and Bess, and the Elgar Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85.

The Elgar was the concert’s centerpiece, featuring the Orchestra’s principal cellist, Hans Brightbill. The soloist played the 1919 work in much the same way as he did in two late January performances, also directed by Mr. Gamboa, with a warm incisive sound. Tonal richness was greatest in the low registers, and Mr. Brightbill’s vibrato was varied, especially in the lyrical adagio, where he deftly increased or decreased its intensity for rich expressivity. Jackson’s acoustics are slightly dry and reverb is minimal, but the sound is direct and Mr. Brightbill’s cello line projected substantial sonority.

The plaintive theme in the second movement was reminiscent of the Schumann A Minor Concerto, with an extended and elegantly phrased cadenza. Different from Mr. Brightbill’s past readings was his consummate ability to play softly, even when the music had a faster tempo. In several places the soloist had unison phrases with the five section cellos, and his voice leading moved the Orchestra through efficacious modulations, each tinged with melancholy.

A standing ovation followed the performance’s conclusion, and a professional hug from Mr. Gamboa at the podium for Mr. Brightbill.

Costa Rican composer Julio Fonseca (1885-1950) orchestrates in a colorful manner, and his Tropical Suite: Fiesta Compestre has been a favorite of the conductor since childhood. There is a lot going on in the 12-minute work with continual section contrasts, and echoes here and there of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and Viennese dance hall charm. Clarinetist Nick Xenelis and violist Robby Morales played piquant solos with an identical ascending and slowing phrase, and that pattern was also played in the cellos. The five-person percussion section was active throughout. Cutoffs were crisp.

The evening’s concert had a reduced number of high string performers (just five each first violins and violas, seven second violins) and the insouciant brass section often covered with a vivid and rousing sound. The sonic impact of the brass and four horns bordered on histrionic, but the Tropical Suite is that kind of piece. Muscular indeed.

The reviewer was unable to stay for the second half.