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Monday, June 27, 2022
 Recent Reviews
OPERA
VERDI'S THEATRICAL LA TRAVIATA TRIUMPHS AT CINNABAR
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Michelle Drever and Sergio Gonzalez in La Traviata
In years gone by Petaluma’s venerable Cinnabar Theater mounted two complete operas each season, but in COVID times alas it’s just one. But in this June’s run of six of Verdi’s La Traviata one was surely enough, if it was really good, and the June 19 performance was in every way splendid. As with ...
SYMPHONY
MARIACHI MEETS ORCHESTRA AT THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, June 12, 2022
Champaña Nevin
Quick, which semiclassical cantata includes the immortal line, “But the workers received from their employers an insurance that covered major medical expenses”? The answer is “Los Braceros,” a cantata by Enrico Chapela Barba for mariachi and orchestra suffused with great music but in desperate need ...
CHORAL AND VOCAL
RARE MOZART COUPLING COMPLETES SONOMA BACH'S SEASON IN SCHROEDER
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, May 28, 2022
Soprano Danielle Reutter-Harrah
Sonoma Bach closed their impressive 2021-22 season May 28 treating a full Schroeder Hall audience to a pair of beloved, unfinished Mozart standards, The (Great) Mass in C Minor, and his Requiem from 1791, both conducted masterfully by founder and artistic director Robert Worth. Although modern audi...
EXOTIC RUSSIAN MUSIC FEATURED IN MV PHIL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Thursday, May 19, 2022
l to r: D. Sadava, J. Stopher, C. Stewart (A. Wasserman photo)
The Mill Valley Philharmonic, in its twenty-second year, continues to mature. Founded and nurtured by Laurie Cohen, the all-volunteer ensemble is thriving under the baton of Dana Sadava, Ms. Cohen’s successor. The orchestra performed two Russian masterworks May 14 - Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Them...
SYMPHONY
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PREMIERES DAUGHERTY SKETCHES OF SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 8, 2022
Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong
“The most sacred duty of audiences,” said Santa Rosa Symphony Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong at their May 8 concert, “is to hear orchestral works for the first time.” The concert offered that duty in the form of a world premiere of Michael Daugherty’s “Valley of the Moon,” a programmatic work sketc...
CHAMBER
BRAHMS-ERA TRIOS HIGHLIGHT OAKMONT CHAMBER CONCERT
by Nicholas Xelenis
Thursday, May 5, 2022
Israeli Chamber Project
The Music at Oakmont concert May 5 in Berger Auditorium was attended with mostly masked patrons who were buzzing at the door and then made an effort to get close to the stage to hear the piano trio from the Israeli Chamber Music Project. Berger’s sonics were a bit of a challenge for the musicians w...
CHAMBER
CHAMBER GEMS OF BRAHMS IN TRIO NAVARRO'S SCHROEDER CONCERT
by Judy Walker
Sunday, May 1, 2022
HORNIST WILLIAM KLINGERHOFFER
The Navarro Trio, comprising regular members cellist Jill Brindel and pianist Marilyn Thompson, presented a concert May 1 in Schroeder Hall devoted to the music of Brahms, and were joined by violinist Jeremy Constant, William Klingerhoffer (horn) and violist Jenny Douglass. A small audience receive...
RECITAL
UNIQUE ELEGANCE IN GALBRAITH GUITAR RECITAL
by Gary Digman
Friday, April 29, 2022
Guitarist Paul Galbraith
Paul Galbraith is a unique guitarist: his instrument is unique, his technique is unique, and his repertoire is unique. This was clearly evident in his Redwood Arts Council performance at Community Church of Sebastopol April 29. Mr. Galbraith’s guitar has eight strings, two more than the usual six, ...
SYMPHONY
VSO'S ELEGANT PASTORAL SYMPHONY SHINES IN EMPRESS RETURN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 24, 2022
Jeffre LaDeur's Cadenza in the Rachmaninoff Concerto
After an extended COVID wait the Vallejo Symphony returned to the city’s Empress Auditorium April 23 and 24 with a program that easily proved the long layoff didn’t lesson the VSO’s legendary quality. The Sunday performance is reviewed here. One of the highlights of the afternoon was the seldom-hea...
CHORAL AND VOCAL
A SPIRITUAL FAURE REQUIEM IN GOOD FRIDAY CANTIAMO CONCERT
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Friday, April 15, 2022
Carol Menke and Cantiamo Sonoma April 15
A lovely and emotional rendering of Fauré's beloved Op. 48 Requiem was presented on Good Friday by Cantiamo Sonoma at Santa Rosa's Church of the Roses. The singers of Cantiamo were joined by members of the The Roses Chancel Choir and Chamber orchestra to create a powerful yet tender and memorable p...
Local Concerts  
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Marin Symphony / Sunday, June 19, 2022
Alasdair Neale, conductor. Joyce Yang, piano

Pianist Joyce Yang June 19 in Marin

CLOUDS AND PASSION: MARIN SYMPHONY'S STELLAR CONCERT

by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, June 19, 2022

A wide contrast of era and mood characterized the first half of Marin Symphony’s stellar June 19 program in the Marin Center, opening with Jennifer Higdon’s transparent, cloud-light tone poem, blue cathedral, and ending with Stravinsky’s clashing, crashing Symphony in Three Movements.

Conductor Alasdair Neale’s introductory remarks alluded to this contrast, calling the Higdon “all soft focus” and the Stravinsky “a thrilling ride, angular and hard edges.” As sharp as the juxtaposition was, it prepared the audience for the second half: Tchaikovsky’s B Flat Piano Concerto, a work full of dramatic internal contrasts.
Ms. Higdon’s orchestral reverie, named for her late brother, Andrew Blue Higdon, features a delightful array of percussion instruments, including crotales (small, tuned brass disks), marimba, vibraphone, glockenspiel, tom-tom, and triangles, but the main voices in the piece are flute and clarinet, standing in for the composer and her brother. Flutist Myunglu Yeo’s playing symbolized the composer and Arthur Austin’s clarinet line her brother.

The piece is above all a loving dialogue and a meditation on death. Celestial harmonies converge and separate like moving clouds. Composed for the 75th anniversary of Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute, the piece speaks of love and memory. Violins sing, woodwinds soar, horns rise to glass ceilings of sound, and bells and other percussion affirm the importance of the sacred in our lives. At the end, the piece sparkles from the tinkling sound of small bells being rung from around the orchestra, and then a sonority that to me was reminiscent of a cellphone’s busy signal—as though with time and faith, a lost connection can be recovered.

The origin of some sections of Stravinsky’s 22-minute Symphony is music composed in the 1940s, but ultimately not used, for several Hollywood films. Spliced and augmented, they create a symphonic work in sonata form that ultimately was choreographed by Balanchine and premiered by the New York City Ballet in 1972.

Throughout the symphony, one hears echoes of earlier Stravinsky works, including The Rite of Spring. Driving rhythms are passed around the orchestra like hot potatoes, at full volume and running pace. Drumbeats sound ominously, and there’s a deep sense of unease. The playing in the Allegro first movement conjured visions of wandering into a dark cave without a torch until a freshet is felt and the sea comes into view. Then, bam! Slash! And critters scurry out from beneath rocks. Out of dissonance a carnival-like theme issues merrily forth.

The tender second movement (Andantino semplice) is music Stravinsky composed for the film “The Song of Bernadette.” In a trailer for the documentary “Stravinsky in Hollywood” the scene for which it was intended (Bernadette’s vision of the Virgin Mary) is evoked with Stravinsky’s score. The music is haunting and makes a beautiful second movement. Stravinsky wrote music for at least three additional films during World War II, and is quoted as saying that in his Symphony’s third movement, “each episode is linked in my mind with a concrete impression of the War.”

Tchaikovsky’s Concerto from 1879 lies at the intersection of revolution and passion, and is arguably the most popular classical concerto. The playing in the famous opening Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso stirs the listener’s blood: a series of clarion calls from the brass sections to which the pianist responds with huge chords rising six-plus octaves. Soloist Joyce Yang played powerfully and sensitively, underscoring the sense of triumph and tragedy that suffuse the work. Her pianistic mastery allowed her to expressively turn quickly from the strength of violent passion to the quietest tenderness. Her performance of the composer’s own cadenza was exquisite.

The second movement, Andantino semplice, unfurled like liquid glass, with extended trills and lovely playing from the winds: flutist Myung Yeo, oboist Margot Golding and bassoonist Carla Wilson. This is Tchaikovsky at his most romantic, and the audience, which had burst into applause after the first movement, was rapturously attentive.

The Allegro con fuoco finale began with a bang and ended with a huge flourish. The coda alone is worthy of a ballet, and in this dramatic music one could hear echoes of Swan Lake. At its climax Ms. Yang did total justice to the huge octaves that throw down the gauntlet to the pianist and the triple-speed runs that follow them. The concerto came to a triumphal conclusion, and the audience rose to give her and the orchestra a standing ovation.

Even after three curtain calls the ovation persisted, and the pianist returned to the stage to play what she announced as “a very beautiful dream,” Rachmaninoff’s serene E Major Prelude, Op. 23, No. 4. The interpretation was indeed beautiful, and most would have been content to let that end the afternoon, because it brought the concert full circle to the dreamy mood of the Higdon work. But the applause went on, and Ms. Yang came back with a smile, saying her hands were now rested, to offer a second gift: Rachmaninoff’s glorious Prelude in Op. 23, No. 2, in B-flat Major.

Events Calendar

SYMPHONY
Mendocino Music Festival
Saturday, July 9, 2022
7:30 PM - Fort Bragg
Allan Pollack, conductor. Yevgeny Kutik, violin

Prokofiev" Violin Concerto No. 1; Pollack: The Phoenix; Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 Tickets: $15 to $35...
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OPERA
Vallejo Center for the Arts
Saturday, July 9, 2022
7:30 PM - Vallejo
Vallejo Festival Orchestra. Thomas Conlin, conductor. Othalie Graham, soprano
Gala All-Wagner program: Die Walküre: Du Bist Der Lenz and Der Männer Sippe; Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod; Tannhäuser: Overture and Dich Teure Halle; Lohengrin: Prelude to Act III; Der Fl...
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RECITAL
Napa Valley Music Associates
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
7:00 PM - Napa
Eric Symons, guitar
Program TBA $20 adult; $15 seniors and students...
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RECITAL
Mendocino Music Festival
Wednesday, July 13, 2022
7:30 PM - Mendocino
Spencer Myer, piano
Debussy: Pour le Piano; Chopin: Four Impromptus, Ops. 29, 36, 51, 66; Beethoven: Sonata in E minor, Op. 90; Granados: Los Requeibros and El Amor y La Muerte Tickets $15 - $33...
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RECITAL
Mendocino Music Festival
Thursday, July 14, 2022
1:00 PM - Mendocino
Spencer Myer, piano
Same program as the July 13 recital Tickets $15 - $33...
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CHAMBER
Valley of the Moon Music Festival
Saturday, July 16, 2022
4:00 PM - Sonoma
Tanya Tomkins and Elisabeth Reed, cello; Erich Hoeprich, clarinet; Nikki Einfeld, soprano; Elizabeth
Weber: Clarinet Quintet in B-flat major, Op. 34; Florence Price: Sunset; Schubert: Shepherd on the Rock, D. 965; Kreutzer: The Mill Wheel; Haydn: Piano Trio TBA; addition vocal works TBA Ticket $15 t...
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CHAMBER
Valley of the Moon Music Festival
Sunday, July 17, 2022
4:00 PM - Sonoma
Eric Zivian, piano; Kyle Stegall, tenor; Lisa Lee, violin; Eric Hoeprich, clarinet
Brahms: songs, and Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Op.78; Mozart: E-Flat Major Trio, K. 498 (Kegelstatt) Tickets: $15 to $48...
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CHAMBER
Valley of the Moon Music Festival
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
7:00 PM - Kenwood
Tanya Tomkins, cello; Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin. Additional musicians TBA. Dan Levitis, biolog
Alfresco Concert! Cellos duos, solo violin music, string trios. Composers TBA $25. Audience may bring food and drink...
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RECITAL
Mendocino Music Festival
Thursday, July 21, 2022
1:00 PM - Mendocino
Gloria Cheng, piano
Stephen Andrew Taylor: Seven Memorials; Wang Lu and Anthony Cheung: Recombinant; Zhou Long: Pianobells; 32 Garlands for Steven Stucky $15 to $33...
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CHORAL AND VOCAL
Mendocino Music Festival
Friday, July 22, 2022
8:00 PM - Mendocino
Festival Chamber Chorale. Jenny Matteucci, director
Rutter: All Things Bright and Beautiful; Tavener: The Lamb; Copland: I Bought Me a Cat; Vvaldi: Gloria...
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