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Chamber
PERFORMER AS PROMOTER: CLARA SCHUMANN AND MUSICAL SALONS CLOSE VOM FESTIVAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 28, 2019
The July 28 closing performance of the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival could have been subtitled "Friends", as it was devoted to works by both Clara and Robert Schumann, and those of their friends and protégés Brahms and virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim, with whom Clara toured extensively...
Chamber
ROMANTIC CHAMBER WORKS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 27, 2019
Now in its 5th season the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented July 27 a concert titled “My Brilliant Sister,” featuring Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s compositions for combinations of voice, fortepiano and strings. Fanny and her brother Felix were close, and Felix occasionally published ...
Symphony
ROMANTIC DREAMS AT THE MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kayleen Asbo
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Romanticism, contrary to many popular perceptions, wasn’t simply about diving into the habitat of the heart. Romanticism began as a literary movement that elevated the power of nature as a transcendent force and sought with keen nostalgia to rediscover the wisdom of the past. The Romantics in both l...
Chamber
CHAUSSON CONCERTO SHINES IN A VISIONARY'S SALON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Ernest Chausson’s four-movement Concerto in D Major for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet (1891) is neither concerto nor sonata nor symphony, but it somehow manages to be all three, especially when played with fire and conviction by an accomplished soloist. Those incendiary and emotional elements w...
Chamber
EUROPEAN SALON MUSIC CAPTIVATES AT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Two stunning programs of 19th and 20th century chamber music were presented on July 21 and 28 as part of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival at the Hanna Center in Sonoma. Festival founders and directors pianist Eric Zivian and cellist Tanya Tompkins were both on hand to contribute brilliantly at ...
Chamber
ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL COMBINATIONS IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 20, 2019
A Lovely summer afternoon in Sonoma Valley, an excellent small concert hall, enthusiastic audience, exciting musicians and creative programming with interesting story lines. All these were combined July 20 at a Valley of the Moon Festival concert titled “An Italian in Paris.” This is the fifth seaso...
Opera
'ELIXIR' A WELCOME TONIC IN SPRIGHTLY ANNUAL MMF OPERA
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 19, 2019
In most of the Mendocino Music Festival’s 33 seasons a single evening is given over to a staged opera, with bare bones sets, lighting, costumes, minimal cast and short length. No Wagner or Verdi here, no multiple acts and complicated production demands. Light and frothy are the usual, and so it wa...
Recital
PUNGENT WALTZES AND VIRTUOSITY IN LADEUR'S SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
San Francisco based pianist Jeffrey LaDeur has become one of the most sought-after North Bay virtuosi, and cemented that reputation July 17 in a short but eclectic recital in Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village Chamber Music Series. Before 140 in the Village’s auditorium Mr. LaDeur began with Schubert...
Choral and Vocal
NOBLE BRAHMS REQUIEM PERFORMANCE CLOSES SONOMA BACH'S SEASON
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 01, 2019
Sonoma Bach, conducted by Robert Worth, presented a truly grand finale to their 2018-19 "Light Out of Darkness" season in two sold out Schroeder Hall performances June 1 and 2. The program "A Human Requiem" was received rapturously with a well-deserved standing ovation for the main work, Brahms' ...
Chamber
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six song...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Marin Symphony / Saturday, January 26, 2019
Alasdair Neale, conductor. Orion Weiss, piano.

Alasdair Neale (l) and Orion Weiss Celebrate Jan. 26 (Stuart Lirette Photo)

ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT

by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dances and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 7. The more familiar Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 occupied the entire second half, with soloist Orion Weiss.

The Chairman Dances was composed in the 1980s while Adams worked on the opera Nixon in China, and is a thoroughly intriguing and delightful piece, playful and whimsical at turns, with minute tonal shifts and compelling rhythms that highlighted the orchestra’s excellent percussionists (Kevin Neuhoff and Ward Spangler) and string sections. With a watery, bubbly, Philip Glass-like minimalist beginning, with intervals of repetitive figurations punctuated by bells and clicks from triangle, tambourine, glockenspiel and the like, the playing was hypnotic. The music tumbles towards cacophony, and then pulls back, morphing into a ballroom dance melody, a foxtrot that is romantic, even ethereal. Toward the end, the instruments peel off one by one until only the piano and drums remain. The music slows as the clock ticks time away and then all is quiet. It was a champagne-worthy performance, much appreciated by the half-capacity audience in the Marin Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium.

The mood turned thoughtful with the opening of Sibelius’ Symphony, No. 7 in C major, Op. 105, written in 1924 and his last. It takes the form of a tone poem with a single 25-minute movement that changes mood and tempos as it travels great expressive distances. All of its major passages are in C major or C minor, and composer Vaughan-Williams is quoted as having said that no one but Sibelius could make C major sound fresh. There are ten sections that unfold without pause, with evolving texture and color, evoking a vast landscape both interior and exterior: the icy realm of Sibelius’ native Finland, with splendid playing from trombonists Craig McAmis and Kurt Patzner. Mr. Neale commented earlier that the Seventh Symphony “pulls you along in its wake.” The conductor interpreted the work as a slowly unfolding drama, a sound odyssey of mythic proportion.

After intermission Mr. Weiss joined the Symphony for the B-Flat Concerto (Op. 83 from 1881), and the performance of this powerful work was illuminating in a number of ways. This is passionate music, often anguished, sometimes furious and then tender. Meredith Brown’s lovely opening horn solo led to Mr. Weiss’ muscular playing, though he appeared tense as he strove to balance the underpowered piano’s voice against the orchestra’s sonority, which sometimes threatened to overwhelm him. This palpable sense of tension lasted through the allegro appassionato second movement. But in the lyrical third movement (andante) Mr. Weiss visibly relaxed as he played the solo passages, and in the solos and beautifully transparent duets with horn and principal cellist Madeleine Tucker, and splendid playing from flutist Katrina Walter and oboist Margot Golding, Mr. Weiss plumbed the movement’s poetic depth and cast a spell.

The final movement, allegretto grazioso—un poco più presto, had a heightened quality in its tender and spritely passages, and the concerto came to a triumphant conclusion. It’s a sinewy piece, and less volume from the orchestra would have benefited sonic balance and clarity, but otherwise it was a thrilling performance.

Some audience members applauded between movements, which Mr. Neale and Mr. Weiss took good-naturedly, though each time it seemed to disrupt the musical flow. A prolonged standing ovation rewarded the soloist and orchestra at the conclusion.