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Chamber
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...
Chamber
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...
Chamber
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...
Chamber
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...
Symphony
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...
Opera
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
Green Music Center / Saturday, February 01, 2020
NFN Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra. Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor. Bomrori Kim, violin

Conductor Giancarlo Guerreo

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 presenting Classical and Romantic repertoire as well as 20th and 21st century Polish composers such as Lutoslawski, Pawel Mykietyn and Pärt. Their extensive repertoire extends to European and even American compositions as well.

The program started with Lutoslawski’s Symphonic Variations. The Variations, championed originally by conductor George Fitelberg in Warsaw, begins with a short melodic theme for flute followed by sometimes chaotic sounding sections alternating with returns to the melodic theme. Included in the brilliant orchestral writing are aleatoric sections, times of chance and confusion which then return to order and simplicity, where the musicians play without the direct cues from a conductor.. It was apparent in the first minutes that this was an extraordinary symphony orchestra and Weill Hall acoustics allowed the full richness and variety of timbres to glow and burn bright.

The excitement of great 20th century Polish masters continued with the Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Joining the orchestra was Bomsori Kim, an exciting and brilliant violinist soloist. After moving from the Ukraine to Warsaw Szymanowski wrote this splendid work consisting of one long movement divided into three sections, and it seems It was inspired by a romantic love poem and the orientalist movement popular at the time in Paris. Over a landscape of murmuring orchestral sounds the violin soars in high registers, a marvel of delicacy with inner power which Ms. Bomsori executed with breathtaking beauty and clarity throughout the piece. A textured scene with birdlike calls, glissandi and heartwarming rich low viola sounds from the solo violin led back to etherial violin harmonics. High drama and passages of dancelike rhythms and trumpet calls intertwined. The ensemble playing of soloist and orchestra and also within the orchestra itself was magical. Mr. Guererro led with energy and explosive expressiveness. At times he seemed to be a magician, leading from the physical world to transcendent realms, to a heightened sonic reality.

After an intermission, Brahms’ C Minor Symphony (No. 1) Op. 68, recalled an earlier era. Born in 1833, Brahms lived in the symphonic shadow of Beethoven and it took him 14 years to compose his first symphony. It is a symphony with extremes of sound and drama, and It is often relentless in its path and unsettling until the final march to hope and light. The first movement features timpani and driving melodies with moments of calmness headed towards the transforming C Major harmony. The second movement in E major is cheerful with some dark elements lurking. The third movement again has the dual personality of pastoral character juxtaposed with fanfares and a restless pizzicato bass.

The “epic” finale starts with solemnity and a sudden leap into a theme in homage to Beethoven’s ninth symphony, and it is a powerful movement and Mr. Guerrero led the NFM with careful attention to section balances. The climax was exhilarating. This was an orchestral performance of supreme and relentless commitment. It was almost unbearably intense and the true transformative glory of the final C Major was powerful.

A standing ovation brought the conductor back for an encore, a joyful and rollicking Slavonic Dance No. 8 by Dvorák, a composer championed by Brahms. While the orchestra played, clearly enjoying this dance time, Mr. Guerrero sauntered around the stage, interacting with musicians and audience with humorous pantomime. The audience was enchanted!. What followed was more humor, the orchestra playing Strauss’ Thunder and Lightning Waltz while their conductor did an even more extreme pantomime of approval, disapproval, bafflement and all manner of clown expressions.

By the end, the audience was completely in love, with the orchestra, the conductor, and with the wonder of great music.

Nicki Bell contributed to this review