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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...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Sonoma County Philharmonic / Saturday, November 16, 2019
Norman Gamboa, conductor. San Francisco Conservatory of Music Pre-College Division Competition Winner as Soloist (TBA)

Violinist Pierce Wang with Conductor Norman Gamboa

ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL EXCITEMENT IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT IN JACKSON

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 16, 2019

Beginning with a scintillating reading of Rossini’s Overture to the Opera “Semiramide,” the Sonoma County Philharmonic performed a splendid program Nov. 16 in the Jackson Theater, and featured two additional works, one showcasing the winner of the San Francisco Conservatory’s Young Artist Award.

It’s pretty hard to not move your body with Rossini’s infectious rhythms and thematic charm, and the audience of 200 seemed to enjoy doing so, even with conductor Norman Gamboa adopting mostly poky tempos and conventional phrasing. The horn section sounded pungently brassy and oboist Chris Krive’s elegant playing paralleled the virtuosity of Debra Scheüerman’s flute and the smile inducing high-wire piccolo line of Emily Reynolds. This Overture from the early 1820s is a sure-fire opening for whatever comes next in the program, usually musically disparate. Loud bravos and applause were heard.

And different Prokofiev’s D Major Violin Concerto was, with the young soloist Pierce Wang playing without score, and though it took a while for him to get going, he did catch the mysterious shimmer of the opening chords. His upper register was his most secure, and the So Co Phil woodwind section gave admirable support throughout the opening Andantino – Andante. Christina Kopriva’s harp solos were always audible. In the second Adagio di molto movement the composer’s dissonant harmonies were strikingly played in the brass and Mr. Wang’s octave playing, with occasional pitch variance, combined in duos with the flute and piccolo. Ms. Kopriva played a lovely glissando half way through and the high strings sang again the melancholy first theme.

Fine bassoon (Miranda Kincaid) and clarinet playing were heard in the finale, with Floyd Reinhart’s tuba line heard clearly behind the pyrotechnical virtuosity from the soloist’s double stops, quasi-sarcastic tune projection and fast ascending scale passages. Surprisingly the Concerto ended with a long fermata in D major, and a return to the quiet shimmer of the opening. It was haunting and beautiful. The applause was long and strong, with a bouquet for Mr. Wang, one curtain call, a short speech by an SF Conservatory Dean, but no soloist encore.

There had been talk that County fire-related abbreviated rehearsals could affect the Orchestra’s ability to manage the many rhythmic complexities of Rachmaninoff’s Op. 45 Symphonic Dances. But no worry, as Mr. Gamboa drew a performance that underscored the composer’s brilliant orchestration with glittering playing in each section. In three loose movements the Dances have consonant harmonies and include sad themes with a seemingly Czarist Russian color and flavor. Contributing to the rich sonic mix were Mr. Krive and clarinetist Nick Xenelis; bass clarinetist Kathy Brooks, harp and Orchestra pianist Carol Schindler .

Short march sections featured four horns and at times three trumpets, and the playing veered in the Lento assai – Allegro from and occasional raw sonic “edge” to a swaying 1930s dance character, with difficult undulating passages for the violins. The conductor found the nostalgic warmth that underlies even the most demanding writing, a character of the composer’s music from this 1940 work and the A Minor Symphony (his third) that came just four years before. The woodwinds in this movement were first cabin, as were Dave Lindgren’s trumpet playing and the bright snare drum rattle from an unannounced percussion player.

It was altogether a wholly creditable and convincing concert, the second in a set of two. Mr. Gamboa conducts an all French program (Debussy, Ravel, Berlioz) the first two days of February in Jackson, the Philharmonic’s penultimate concert of the 2019/2020 season.