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Recital
TRANSCRIPTIONS ABOUND IN GALBRAITH'S GUITAR RECITAL
by Gary Digman
Saturday, September 14, 2019
Master guitarist Paul Galbraith’s artistry was much in evidence Sept. 14 in his Sebastopol Community Church recital. Attendees in the Redwood Arts Council events were initially bothered by the afternoon’s heat in the church, but it was of small importance when the Cambridge, England-based artist be...
Recital
ECLECTIC DRAMATIC PROGRAMING IN SPRING LAKE VILLAGE RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Marin-based pianist Laura Magnani combined piquant remarks to an audience of 100 Sept. 11 with dramatic music making in a recital at Spring Lake Village’s Montgomery Center. Ms. Magnani’s eclectic programming in past SLV recitals continued, beginning with three sonatas by her Italian compatriot Sca...
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...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Marin Symphony / Sunday, April 28, 2019
Alasdair Neale, conductor. Oliver Herbert, cello

Alasdair Neale Leads Applause for Oliver Herbert April 28

MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON CLOSES WITH AUTUMNAL ELGAR AND THEATRICAL BEETHOVEN

by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 28, 2019

Mozart’s enchanting Overture to his opera The Magic Flute, a miniature tapestry of gems from the 1791 work, opened the Marin Symphony’s final concert of the 2018-2019 season. Under conductor Alasdair Neale, the playing of the sprightly seven-minute piece by a reduced-size classical ensemble sparkled like crystal.

It was Mozart’s practice to compose an overture after completing the respective opera score, so the piece contains intimations of all that is to come: evocation of earth and sky, a villainess and her minions, a master of mysteries, a pure-hearted hero and innocent heroine, lechery, danger, absurdity, love—all swirled into a joyful concoction. The performance was greeted by a capacity audience at the Marin Civic Auditorium with great enthusiasm.

Big, noble works with full orchestra filled the rest of the program: Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85, with soloist Oliver Herbert, and Beethoven’s E-Flat Major Symphony, Op. 55 (Eroica). Mr. Neale has known Mr. Herbert since the latter was a toddler, and their comfortable rapport showed in a splendid reading of the Elgar. This weekend the cellist performed it for the first time in public, and it’s a work that demands technical excellence, tonal power, and lots of soul. Written as World War I was drawing to a close, it mirrors the anxious tenor of the times. Although Elgar lived another 14 years after its premiere, it was to be his last major composition.

Slow in gaining popularity, the concerto, which Elgar termed “a man’s attitude toward life,” is performed more today than most other Elgar compositions. For one critic it signified a “lament for a lost world,” and from the first deep expressions of sorrow, double-stop chords in E Minor, its sense of tragedy is always close by. Near the beginning of the first movement, the cello writing poses a rising series of quasi questions and sighs, which are answered by the violas and then the clarinets and bassoons. A melody of memorable sweetness and a pastoral, undulating passage raise the mood. Throughout the four movements of this epic work, the cello line questions, cherishes, anguishes, and seems to come to terms with the meaning of “a man’s life” in all its complexity. The orchestra playing was stellar, and Mr. Herbert communicated the concerto’s mixed emotions with great skill, heart and strength.

“Masterworks 4: Fearless,” the title for this concert, aptly describes Beethoven’s innovative Third Symphony, written in 1805. This was perhaps his greatest symphonic piece up to the time of its first performance, and wielded substantial influence not only on contemporary composers, but also in the short term influenced his six additional symphonies to come. Its motives and thematic development set a new direction for him; hints of this appear like golden threads in the fabrics of the 5th, 6th, and 7th Symphonies in particular. Although (or because of) suffering at the time from a rapidly accelerating hearing loss, he was able to forge a new, fearless path, breaking away from the Classical form and never looking back.

Forty-seven minutes in most performances, the Eroica presents something of a marathon for any orchestra, but the Marin forces played it beautifully. The first movement (allegro con brio) flings open the doors with two emphatic chords that lead quickly into a strange transition in the cellos to C Sharp. The instruments weigh in individually and in unison to sound a thrilling pulse, emanating great energy, a gathering of forces that never lets up. The second movement, Marche funebre (adagio assai) was a shock to listeners at the time, as there hadn’t been a funeral march before in a symphony. A fugue, led by the strings, was played powerfully through all the instrumental sections and resolved like a chorale before re-introducing the funeral processional. A staccato puttering Scherzo (Allegro Vivace) gave way three times to a mellow horn quartet, led by principal Darby Hinshaw, that might have been a call to the hunt. The movement hurried on energetically once more and ended much as it had begun.

The Eroica’s final movement reasserts the emphatic chords of the first movement, and quickly leads to a rondo, with restatements of motives and themes and a graceful rising to a coda that is its triumphal climax.

As the audience stood to applaud the sterling performance, Mr. Neale singled out in succession the strings, oboes, flutes, clarinets, bassoons, trumpets, horns, and timpanist Tyler Mack for special recognition.