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Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Sonoma County Philharmonic / Saturday, January 26, 2019
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Tom Hyde, trumpet; Anthony Perry, English horn; Lin He, violin

Violinist Lin He

JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019

Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the Sonoma County Philharmonic managed to master the new hall and produced music at their usual high level before 250 people, with a repeat the following afternoon.

Conductor Norman Gamboa drew a warm sound from his orchestra in the Bruch Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46, with violin soloist Lin He. Mr. He’s focused and plangent sound was never large, and recalled the recent poised but not extravagant or high temperature approach of violinist Jennifer Koh with the Marin Symphony. The conductor’s section placement was usual (second violins stage left) but the concert harp was surprisingly positioned next to the cellos, and soloist Cristina Kopriva had a prominent part in the lyrical Bruch.

Acoustics in the Jackson were sharply less reverberant than the Santa Rosa High School hall, but warm and direct with the lip of the balcony much closer to the stage front than at SRHS. This seemed to favor the poetry of the adagio cantabile, ending with Mr. He’s brilliant high e string note. The scherzo’s expressive themes were projected well by Ms. Kopriva and Mr. He, with the latter’s wide vibrato and lovely trills.

Intonation difficulties at the opening of the andante sostenuto and blurring in fast scale passages resolved quickly, and Mr. He played the virtuoso ascending and descending runs and double stops in exemplary fashion. Passages from the five horns were splendid. The finale was lively with Mr. Gamboa in consummate control and Mr. He widening his vibrato and finishing the cadenza with a long and perfectly shaped trill.

Following intermission English hornist Anthony Perry and trumpeter Tom Hyde were the soloists in Copeland’s meditative 11-minute Quiet City, composed in 1941. As usual Mr. Hyde’s conclusive playing was never piercing or shrill, and he swelled on notes to achieve substantial loudness. The unique English horn sound has been in my ears since first hearing it in the introduction to the third act of Tristan und Isolde, and here Mr. Perry beguiling playing was softly effective. Mr. Gamboa drew subtle string playing from the reduced orchestra, and his pacing was generous.

Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Op. 36, concluded the concert in a performance where brass and horn solos were prominent, and splendid playing abounded throughout. Mr. Gamboa was clearly shaping the long thematic line throughout the 14 variations. Fetching individual playing came from clarinetist Nick Xenelis; flutists Emily Reynolds and Valerie White; Miranda Kincaid (bassoon) and in several short solos by violist Robby Morales.

The famous adagio variation (No. 9, “Nimrod”) was played with a light touch and the conductor moved the tempo and shaped a lovely flute phrase. There was only a brief accelerando leading to the finale, and throughout the 33-minute piece Mr. Gamboa never was in any hurry, letting instrument sound ranging from Floyd Reinhart’s tuba part to frequently rumbling strings to shine forth.

The Jackson provided a happy musical home for its new resident orchestra.

Ending the 20th anniversary season will be concerts in Jackson April 6 (7:30) and 7 (2:00) with the main work Prokofiev’s monumental Fifth Symphony in B Flat Major, Op. 100.