Home  Reviews  Articles  Calendar  Presenters  Add Event     
Recital
ECLECTIC PIANISM IN SPRING LAKE VILLAGE VIRTUAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
During the pandemic The Santa Rosa Symphony’s virtual concerts received their due in performance praise, but another series, Spring Lake Village, more quietly presented monthly virtual concerts to a select local audience. May 5 saw the latest event, produced by impresario Robert Hayden, and feature...
Symphony
SONIC CONTRASTS HIGHLIGHT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SPRING PROGRAM
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 25, 2021
In a curious mixture of compositions, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s penultimate virtual concert of the season April 25 unfolded in ways both highly satisfying and a bit perplexing. Directed by resident Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong, the event followed a familiar format – several contemporary wor...
Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
SYMPHONY REVIEW

Jean Ferrandis

AU REVOIR WELLS, BONJOUR GREEN

by Steve Osborn
Monday, May 14, 2012

The Santa Rosa Symphony bid adieu to the much-maligned Wells Fargo Center on May 14 with a mostly French program that showcased the talents of its French conductor, Bruno Ferrandis, and his equally French younger brother, the flute soloist Jean Ferrandis. This Castor and Pollux of the musical firmament shone brightly on the full house, which rewarded their luminescence with repeated standing ovations.

The evening began with some obligatory thank yous from executive director Alan Silow to Symphony musicians, sponsors, ushers and other staff for the past 30 years of music-making at the church-turned-auditorium on Santa Rosa’s north side. Despite its many acoustical defects, Wells does have a certain charm, and the transition to the much-vaunted Green Music Center in Rohnert Park seems certain to bring a few regrets.

After some more preliminaries, the program began in earnest with a tentative performance of Debussy’s ballet “Jeux” (Games), a somewhat obscure effort that is no match for the composer’s far more celebrated ballet, “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.” The plot here involves a man, two women, a tennis court and a series of tennis balls whose bouncing punctuates the humans’ increasingly erotic encounters.

Imagining this plot unfolding on the stage was a bit of a challenge, as the music seemed mostly to float on a sea of Impressionist stasis. Maestro Ferrandis coaxed ethereal chords out of the various orchestra sections, and the sound was well controlled, but forward momentum was lacking. Instead of evoking a tennis game, the music behaved more like a soundtrack for a cartoon about pixies hovering above water lilies, their wands occasionally emitting clouds of fairy dust.

The forward momentum arrived in the next piece, Mozart’s Flute Concerto No. 2, ably played by Ferrandis No. 2, a virtuoso whose career began at roughly the same time the Symphony moved into Wells. Ferrandis the younger has a purity of tone and a dynamic range that is well suited to Mozart, who bids the flute to act more like an opera singer than a woodwind player. The first movement, with its soaring melody, is like one long aria culminating in an expressive cadenza. The fleet-fingered Ferrandis tossed off all the many runs with ease, revealing the underlying beauty.

In the ensuing Adagio, the younger Ferrandis sustained notes to the max, pushing the flute’s expressive potential. He played as quietly as possible, commanding undivided attention. The concluding Rondo was pure romp, with Ferrandis the soloist playing at warp speed and Ferrandis the conductor providing unexpected ritards and strong phrasing from the compliant orchestra. The standing ovation found the brothers arm in arm.

More ovations arrived after intermission. The first was for the rarely performed “Concerto for Flute and Orchestra” by the 20th century French composer Jacques Ibert. Ferrandis No. 2 again did the honors, this time clad in a white shirt rather than a dark jacket. Playing from score, he took off briskly and never let up. The concerto has much in common with the famous flute sonata by Ibert’s contemporary, Francis Poulenc. The music is happy, festive and carefree, filled with the bustle of Parisian life during the 1930s. The third movement, an Allegro scherzando, is the most striking, with virtuoso passages alternating repeatedly with languid interludes. At times, Ferrandis’ playing drew gasps from the audience, as he skittered nimbly from one end of his instrument to the other.

The concert concluded with an impassioned reading of Ravel’s “La Valse,” one of music’s great demonic masterworks. From the sinister beginning to the shattering finale, maestro Ferrandis and the orchestra’s many skilled players evoked all the darker aspects of the French composer’s homage to the decaying Austrian empire. The three-four beat was persistent and inexorable, solid from the first measure to the last.

“La Valse” is set in Vienna, but it plays well in Santa Rosa, a town whose musical signature--the “Merry Widow” waltz--was immortalized by Alfred Hitchcock in “Shadow of a Doubt.” Waltzes are forever nostalgic, evoking a distant or more recent past. For the Santa Rosa Symphony and the Wells Fargo Center, the 30-year dance is over. A new partner for the Symphony is waiting in the wings.