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SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 08, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
Choral and Vocal
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 09, 2020
The Feb. 9 performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony offered a healthy dose of 21st century music firmly bound to the 19th. Matt Browne’s first symphony, “The Course of Empire”—based on a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School of American painting in the 1820s—emp...
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 02, 2020
Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert. In his eighth conducting season with the So C...
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 01, 2020
The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, gave a concert of enormous energy and emotional impact on Feb.1 to a small audience in Weill Hall. This orchestra has been a major cultural force in Poland since 1949, playing under many renowned conductors and has been committed to pr...
EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT
by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 2020
“Beautiful, strange, and unnatural…” said orchestra conductor Thomas Conlin when speaking of the tenor voice. One of the coveted voice types of the opera world, the tenor voice is known for it’s piercing tones and soaring, unnatural high notes. The iconic image of the Pagliacci clown (in the famed...
CHAMBER REVIEW

(l to r) Carol Adee, Kevin Gordon, Wendy Loder, Daniel Canosa

ECHO OPENS NEW SEASON WITH PROVOCATIVE PROGRAMMING

by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, September 22, 2019

ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s season opening concert Sept. 22 featured an ambitious program of four works, ranging from 1815 to the very present. Performed in the graceful high-vaulted First Presbyterian Church of San Anselmo, the concert engaged rapt attention of the 70 attending. Conducted by Daniel Canosa, ECHO presents a single performance at each program and draws between 25 and 52 musicians from around the Bay Area, and the ensemble’s musical scope is far-reaching.

The evening began with one movement of Louise Ferranc’s Nonet in E-flat major, Op. 38. Scored for violin, viola, clarinet, oboe, French horn, bassoon, double bass, cello and flute, it was performed leaderless, and musical cohesion depended on the musicians listening closely to one another. Ferranc (1804-1875) was a celebrated pianist and the first femme to have a professorship at the Paris Conservatory, where she taught for 30 years. Her Nonet’s adagio-allegro movement is a sprightly introduction to the full work, transparent and charming, with solo parts for each of the nine instruments. The group could have used more rehearsal time and there was some struggling here and there with tempi, and pitch problems from the violinist. The ensemble sections were well done, and the winds and brass in particular accomplished their solos with precision and panache.

From France the musical tide flowed to Russia and Rachmaninoff’s exquisite Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14, for Soprano and Orchestra. It was originally composed for soprano or tenor and piano. Soprano Wendy Loder, who is also the orchestra’s concertmaster, was the soloist. Ms. Loder’s wide vibrato (the word “warble” comes to mind) soared from note to note on a single vowel ah. The piece has the hypnotic quality of Debussy’s Sirènes and the depth of Prokofiev’s “The Field of the Dead” from his cantata Alexander Nevsky. Mr. Canosa held the orchestra in check so that they never overwhelmed the soloist, but elegantly supported her. Each vocalist in this wordless song must choose the story to tell, and to some, it is a narrative of grief, hope and resolution. Ms. Loder chose to accentuate the sustained, lilting musical line. The audience held their applause for a brief moment, but the performance could have been even better greeted with meditative silence.

Prior to the Vocalise performance, Mr. Canosa and double bassist Kevin Gordon provided verbal notes from the stage for the world premiere of their collaborative composition, City Suite. It was inspired by their individual impressions of four cities and their collective impressions of a fifth. The form of each, they said, relates to the dances in suites by Bach. There were unfortunately no program notes but the duo’s explanation was comprehensive. For his part of the process, Mr. Canosa selected Amsterdam and Buenos Aires, the city of his birth. Mr. Gordon chose San Francisco and New York, and the two collaborated on Paris.

Each movement except for “Buenos Aires” had a subtitle of a baroque dance found in Bach: “Amsterdam” was in prelude form; “San Francisco” a bourée; “Paris” an allemande morphing into the tango rhythms of “Buenos Aires,” and “New York” a gigue. But in no other way does City Suite remind one of the Baroque period. It positively cascades with sensual and visceral impressions. “Amsterdam,” the first and most dissonant of the movements, evokes city bustle, church bells, the changing blue light of high latitude summer skies, and rhythmic, pulsing percussive bursts. “San Francisco” blended hippie, funk and fog with high tech. “Paris” incorporated a medieval chant calling on the god of love, which Ms. Loder rose to sing in Latin. The movement then swept attacca (without pause) into the tango rhythms of “Buenos Aires.” The last movement, Mr. Gordon’s “New York,” brought the Suite to an exciting climax with jazzy flair.

Flowers were presented to the conductor, soloist and Mr. Gordon, and then, laying his flowers on the floor and with true ECHO informality, Mr. Canosa simply turned to the audience and said, “Now we’ll do the Schubert.”

The Schubert was his Third Symphony in D major, composed in the summer of 1815, a few months after Schubert’s 18th birthday. Like the rest of his first six symphonies, it wasn’t published during his lifetime. The first movement, adagio maestoso—allegro con brio, began with drama but moved quickly into ebullient sound. The second movement (menuetto: vivace) evoked Mozart, and the presto vivace third was played very Rossini-like, in an almost operatic style. Despite those associations, the performance was all Schubert, full of bold experimentation and lovely melodies. The orchestra performed with skill and gusto, and the audience responded enthusiastically.

The concert was followed by a reception and art show in the Church’s social hall.