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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
Sonoma County Philharmonic / Sunday, April 07, 2019
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Debra Scheüerman, piccolo

Piccolo Solist Debra Scheüerman and the So Co Phil April 7

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 Overture, Op. 20, began the Sunday concert, only the second hearing of the work that premiered at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s gala Weill Hall opening event in 2013. It proved to be a bustling and busy work with big sections brass fanfare and snazzy sound from five percussionists and timpanist Tony Blake. Tempos selected by conductor Norman Gamboa in the interlocking sections were brisk, and piquant music came from chimes, snare drum, marimba, piano (Carol Schindler), harp and soprano saxophone. All this musical commotion overwhelmed the string sections, albeit with a lovely cello solo from Hans Brightbill and beautiful sounds from three flutes.

Copland from the 1930s and more recently John Williams’ music were compositional influences for the composer, and a strident loud climax ended the 14-minute work.

Frisky musical momentum continued with a unique concerto, Israeli composer Yosef Hamami’ s “Freakollo” for piccolo and orchestra. The Orchestra’s principal flutist Debra Scheüerman triumphed in the 15-minute piece, playing from the sheet music though having to wait to enter for an extended orchestra introduction. Much of the solo part is integrated into the Orchestra’s score, though there was a cadenza and a lengthy held note ending the first part, leading to more music with a Middle East/Egyptian flavor and a sunny harp part (Kristina Kopriva) and ample horns.

Ms. Scheüerman moved the solo part along with many agogics and florid runs, mostly descending. There was little variation in the solo instrument’s volume and the artist alternated lyrical phrases with short melodic lines and speedy scales. The Hamami piccolo concerto was probably a North Bay premiere, effective in its smallish size and this perceptive performance.

It comes as no surprise that the impact of the two pieces in the first half were quickly swept away with the arrival of the second half’s mighty Prokofiev 5th Symphony, Op. 100, in B-Flat Major. Mr. Gamboa’s forces got off to a shaky start in the opening andante and throughout the 49 minutes in four movements he was content with judicious tempos, slower than many other conductors prefer. Not ponderous, but in no hurry to get anywhere with this richly orchestrated formidable music from 1944. Balcony acoustics in Jackson have short reverberation and dryness, but admirable clarity, and the andante exhibited flute (Valerie White) and piccolo (Mary Kemnec) duets with oboist Chris Krive and band-like brass playing from trombones and trumpets. An extended fortissimo twice ended a dramatic coda.

Wind instrument virtuosity in the scherzo had some of the best playing of the afternoon (oboes, Nick Xenelis’ magical clarinet, bassoonist Miranda Kincaid) juxtaposed with a theme in the violas (Robby Morales) coming out of the middle of the Orchestra. Mr. Gamboa sits his strings conventionally, cellos and basses stage left, and the exciting and sometimes sinister music was extra effective as he took phrase repeats at slightly different tempos and volume. Changing from a pokey pace to an accelerando gave this movement lift and punch.

Expansive themes characterized the great adagio, as did persuasive individual performers: tubist Floyd Reinhart, Mr. Xenelis and Mr. Krive, Ms. Kopriva and Ms. Kincaid. Mr. Gamboa spotlighted the music’s dissonances and mystery in the dark march section with piquant flute, cymbal, gong, much trombone artistry and finally a faint arpeggiated chord from the clarinet.

The conductor drew an energetic reading in the allegro finale and each new theme seemed to sweep over the preceding ones, almost all joyous except for some solemn interludes. There was a “fate” theme in the cellos and scrappy horn and snare drum playing towards the end, with a trumpet flourish that sped the movement to a tumultuous and propulsive ending.

Many in the audience of 300 rose in raucous appreciation, and used the opportunity in this season’s final concert to chat with the musicians in the large and picturesque Jackson lobby.

Orchestra member (oboist) Anthony Perry doubled as the program’s insouciant announcer, and presented information concerning the coming 2019-2020 season that will differ from past years with more conventional repertoire. There will be two sets in each of four concerts, beginning Sept. 28 and ending April 5. Mr. Gamboa will direct all eight during his eighth season with the Philharmonic.