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SIX GUITARISTS IN UNIQUE NAPA RECITAL
by Gary Digman
Sunday, July 25, 2021
The first Napa Valley Guitar Festival was held at Napa’s First Presbyterian Church July 25, and featured performances from six classical guitarists. The Church is an iconic structure in downtown Napa, its huge white presence dominating the scene, and the white theme continues inside punctuated by be
Chamber
CLARA SCHUMANN TRIO COMMANDS VOM CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT AT HANNA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 24, 2021
The Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Series has begun several virtual and a few live concerts in its new seventh season, some broadcast from Sonoma’s Hanna Center Hall and some in posh local venues. July 24’s video had a small live audience and a well-produced video program of three works. Titled “
Chamber
EXEMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MENDO FESTIVAL FT. BRAGG CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Faced with the impossibility of presenting concerts in the iconic large white tent on the bluff, the Mendocino Music Festival opted to use Ft. Bragg’s Cotton Auditorium for ten events in the abbreviated 35th season. San Francisco’s Alexander String Quartet played July 21 to a fully masked audience
Chamber
ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING AT PIANOSONOMA CONCERT IN SCHROEDER HALL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
After a dark year bereft of live performance, pianoSonoma launched July 20 the first Vino & Vibrato concert of the 2021 season in Sonoma State's Schroeder Hall, albeit sadly senza vino due to Covid protocols. Three exceptional musicians showered the audience with an interesting variety of pia
Chamber
RARELY-PLAYED SCHUMANN HIGHLIGHTS HEALDSBURG RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 10, 2021
Brave New Music sporadically produces concerts in and around Healdsburg, and July 10’s violin recital in downtown St. Paul’s Church must have been one of the first post-lockdown, post-be-extra-careful classical music concerts in Sonoma County's summer season. New Music Founder Gary McLaughlin with
Chamber
ECHOS ON A WARM SUMMER NIGHT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, July 10, 2021
ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s first concert in a year and a half, “A Musical Promenade,” was a promenade indeed. When patrons arrived at San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for the 6:00 performance July 10, they were funneled through the garden to the Duncan Hall patio, where folding chairs were set
Chamber
LONG DISTANCE LOVE BEGINS VOM SUMMER FESTIVAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Thursday, June 24, 2021
The Valley of the Moon Music Festival offered a 7th season preview June 24 with a stunning online concert, aptly named Long Distance Love, featuring inspired performances of Beethoven's short song cycle An die ferne Geliebte,, and selections from Brahms’ beloved Liebeslieder Wal
Recital
ROMERO'S ARTISTRY IN SLV RECITAL PROGRAMMING AND PERFORMANCE
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Gustavo Romero has been an admired visitor to North Bay stages, playing over a decade recitals at Dominican University, the Music at Oakmont concerts and at the Spring Lake Village Concert Series. He returned June 2 to SLV in a virtual recital, videoed from his home concert hall the University of N
RUBICON'S VIRTUAL CONCERT A MALANGE OF CONTRASTS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 16, 2021
The inaugural concert of a new Mendocino County chamber group is a reason for celebration, and the Rubicon Trio made the most of a mixed musical menu during a May16 virtual concert. Presented by the Ukiah Symphony Orchestra as the last in their “Salons with the Symphony” Series, the Rubicon began w
Recital
PIANO VIRTUOSITY IN YAKUSHEV'S REDWOOD ARTS RECITAL
by Nicki Bell
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev’s recital for the Redwood Arts Council was perhaps the local season’s virtual music at the greatest distance, as the filming May 16 came from a church in St. Petersburg. And good filming it was, with multiple camera viewpoints of the church, full and split screens and
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Russian National Orchestra. Carlo Montanaro, conductor. Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano. Sarah Chang, violin

Russian National Orchestra

CHANG AND THIBAUDET WITH A RUSSIAN TWIST

by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It's always a formidable task for a performer to appear last on a program after wildly successful performances earlier in the concert. That unenviable job fell to violinist Sarah Chang July 16 when she played the Barber Concerto, Op. 14, with the Russian National Orchestra in Weill Hall, following a splashy St. Saëns piano concerto and a riveting Shostakovich overture.

The Barber is ever lyrical, even in the perpetual motion finale, and throughout its 23-minute duration the bucolic nature of the work never quite gives over to extended virtuoso passages for the violin. Ms. Chang had a shaky start with intonation problems, but these were quickly resolved, and her command of the instrument's high E string notes was often thrilling. In the second movement Ms. Chang echoed Vitaly Nazarov's majestic oboe solo and widened her vibrato, the ending chord held to a lovely length by conductor Carlo Montanaro. The finale (Presto) was never a race, and Ms. Chang's flaying but accurate bow brought a rousing conclusion and loud applause.

St. Saëns' F Major Concerto (Egyptian) has never quite gotten its due, as the composer's popular G Minor concerto (No. 2) is often performed and the tighter and more introverted C Minor (No. 4) has slipped from the repertoire. Jean-Yves Thibaudet has been on a 10-year quest to change that, playing the Egyptian Concerto all over the world and recording it several times. He now seems to own it, ripping through the showy solo part with abandon, with occasional pungent left-hand sforzandi and continual forceful attacks. In the Allegro, most of the scale passages were played very fast and with half pedal, sacrificing clarity for a colorful wash of notes. This technique suited the music, and the orchestra responded perfectly at every juncture. The Andante, with ersatz Egyptian motifs, was performed lovingly, the ending tremolo in the cellos eerie and carrying to the back of the hall.

Speed returned in the Allegro finale. Mr. Montanaro asked for, and received, tumultuous climaxes from the orchestra. Mr. Thibaudet's right-hand skips were not always accurate, but the ascending interlocking-chord cadenza near the end was controlled thunder. Mr. Montanaro reined in the orchestra with an abrupt decrescendo just before the final potent chords. Exquisite.

This sensational performance brought the audience of 1,200 to its feet. After four curtain calls, Mr. Thibaudet played a long but limpid and chaste encore, Ravel's "Pavane pour une Infante défunte."

With two big-name soloists, how was the Russian National Orchestra under Mr. Montanaro? Fine indeed, as they showed in the concert's beginning with the fast-paced Shostakovich Festive Overture, Op. 96. The opening brass fanfare had sharp bite, and the winds and strings played a fast four-note theme with precision. It was an impeccable performance. One wonders if the Russian National crew could play this overture in their sleep.