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Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Marin Symphony / Sunday, April 05, 2009
The Rite of Spring
Alasdair Neale, conductor
Monica Daniel-Barker, flute
Dan Levitan, harp
Sierra Carnaval

Marin Symphony's Monica Daniel-Barker

COLORFUL DISSONANCES DRIVE STRAVINSKY WORK IN MARIN

by
Sunday, April 05, 2009

Without doubt, the Marin Symphony concert April 5 was a tour de force performance of exceptional virtuosity and brilliance. From the opening local premiere of Roberto Sierra’s Carnaval to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Conductor Alasdair Neale led an evening with the stress on orchestra bravura.

Sierra’s work, commissioned by the Northern California Magnum Opus project, is a spirited piece in five parts, evoking the composer’s rich imagination of mythical creatures consisting of “Gargoyles, Sphinxes, Unicorns, Dragons and The Phoenix.” Born in Puerto Rico but principally trained in Europe, Roberto's exuberantly-crafted Carnival reflects the rich Latin rhythms of his homeland, while the score is structured in the classical symphonic tradition. Though this music is not easily assimilated at first hearing, Sierra’s rhythmic wizardry combined with the succinct structure brought the five character sketches together into a cohesive whole. It is an extraordinary piece, worthy of more performances. Special kudos go to the four members of the percussion section who brought the pungent rhythms to the fore with excitement and aplomb.

In sharp contrast, the program’s next work was Mozart’s Concerto in C Major for Flute and Harp, K. 299, performed by flutist Monica Daniel-Barker and harpist Dan Levitan. Composed in three movements, this charming duo concerto was beautifully played, both soloists the principals with the Symphony. Typical for Mozart’s time, this concerto was composed for the salon and not for a large concert hall. Yet Daniel-Barker and Levitan successfully communicated to the capacity audience the overflowing lyricism of this expressive Mozart concerto, written in Paris when the composer was 22. The andantino slow movement was richly colored, the themes for flute sublime.

Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring), composed in 1910-12, is an extraordinary work, perhaps the most influential symphonic piece of the 20th Century. Although controversial in its 1913 Paris debut, it is as clear and logical as any music one hears today. Written in Switzerland as a ritual pagan ballet, exotic dancers from the Ballet Afsaneh in Woodacre were invited to the pre-concert lecture to explain the imagery of ancient Asiatic cultures. Stravinsky’s polytonalities, polyrhythms and uncanny knowledge of orchestration express his musical ideas with momentous force. The Exalted Sacrifice segment was positively exhilarating, and the Orchestra’s performance of dissonance for purposes of color generated impressive musical energy.