Home  Reviews  Articles  Calendar  Presenters  Add Event     
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
Marin Symphony / Saturday, January 25, 2020
Alasdair Neale, conductor
Jeremy Constant, violin
Jenny Douglass, viola

J. Constant and J. Douglass with Conductor A. Neale Jan. 25 in Marin (Photo: Stuart Lirette)

MOZART MASTERWORK HIGHLIGHTS MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT

by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 25, 2020

Excitement was palpable in the Marin Civic Center Auditorium Jan. 25 as the Marin Symphony in splendid full force took the stage for a richly textured Masterworks II program. Prevented from giving its first Masterworks offering by the wildfire-caused blackouts last October, the orchestra returned with great energy.

Missy Mazzoli’s “These Worlds in Us,” written 2006, a shining nine-minute tone poem scored for full orchestra plus two melodicas (related to the harmonica and accordion), opened the program. Dedicated to her father, who served in (and survived) the Vietnam War, its title is taken from a James Tate poem about his father, a pilot who died in World War II. Given that sadness, the piece might have been unrelentingly somber, but instead is thrillingly alive. Its haunting main theme by the violins, in a pentatonic scale of falling thirds and fourths, is reiterated throughout the piece, interspersed with militaristic references from the snare drum and horns, and bell-like, meditative monotones from the vibraphone evoking the bells and chimes of the gamelan music of Southeast Asia.

Marin Symphony has frequently introduced less-known composers to its audiences. Overall, “These Worlds in Us” synthesizes Asia, Europe and America into a lush, impressionistic soundscape that is both fresh and easily absorbed. Ms. Mazzoli wields a palette of bright orchestral colors, with standard instruments augmented by the melodicas, and extensive use of the vibraphone. The response from the audience in the nearly full hall was warm.

After reducing the orchestra to chamber size, Alasdair Neale conducted Mozart’s E-flat Major Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364, for violin, viola and ensemble, with soloists Concertmaster Jeremy Constant and Principal Violist Jenny Douglass. Mozart’s love of opera and vocal duets is wholly evident here. The violin and viola mirror one another again and again. Mr. Constant and Ms. Douglass are superior musicians and longtime colleagues. Their instruments sang together gloriously, and although sometimes the viola’s quieter sound was covered by the orchestra, long duet cadenzas allowed them to be equally heard. After the effervescent first movement (Allegro maestoso), the sublime Andante held intimations of loss, and in one extended section, as the ensemble played a muted ostinato, the violin and viola engaged in an intimate conversation, poignant in every bar. The Presto third movement restored the mood to joyful. The two soloists’ lines chased after one another, echoing short and light phrases, and then playing in unison as the orchestra guided them to the finish line.

Bows were taken, flowers were presented, and the first half ended with a loud ovation for the sterling performances.

Before playing the final featured work, Mr. Neale spoke to the audience about the recent death of the orchestra’s angel, Gloria Miner. He explained that in a critical period Ms. Miner had made a financial gift “of such magnitude and enormity that it guaranteed our survival.” In her honor, the orchestra’s principal cellist Madeleine Tucker came onstage to play the exquisite “Meditation” from Massenet’s opera Thaïs. Ms. Tucker played with tender expressiveness, her cello’s melodic line soaring above harpist Dan Levitan’s shimmering arpeggios.

The program culminated with Brahms’ Symphony in F Major, Op. 90, completed in 1883. The symphony, his third of four, was a great success from the beginning, so much so that Brahms is said to have tired of hearing it praised as his masterwork. Mr. Neale and the orchestra gave a performance of a deep conviction, never faltering through its demanding quick changes of mood, tempi and dynamics. The first movement, Allegro con brio, began at full throttle, eventually softening into a flowing pastoral section. There were sections of restraint and several climaxes in this movement, which changed like the sea and the wind, all handled deftly by the orchestra.

The lilting Andante second movement evoked water, a cascading stream moving through a serene and shaded wood, while movement three (Poco allegretto) shifted moods from lush harmony into wistfulness, the various instruments seeming to ask the question “why?” (warum? in German), as if the composer was asking in the music why he should deserve a happy life. Here there was pain and self-introspection, but a chorale-like section provided the answer: there is no choice but to live as though one deserved a happy life. The fourth movement, Allegro - Un poco sostenuto, was played alternately as mysterious and anguished, the violins slashing in broken rhythms, then resolving again into introspection and a quiet and contemplative finish.

The audience waited until Mr. Neale lowered his baton before rising in a standing ovation and seemed not to want to end the evening, which prompted an encore: Dvořák’s explosive and exuberant Slavonic Dance No. 8, a rousing finish to an extraordinary evening of music.