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Symphony
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 9, 2022
The Jan. 9 Santa Rosa Symphony concert was supposed to feature the world premiere of Gabriella Smith’s first symphony, but it ended up featuring another type of premiere: a concert that was conceived, rehearsed and performed in less than eight hours. Symphony staff learned on Sunday morning that so
Choral and Vocal
AN OLD FRIEND RETURNS TO WEILL IN STERLING ABS MESSIAH PERFORMANCE
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, December 19, 2021
A tremendous accomplishment by the American Bach Soloists Dec. 19 was near perfect performance of Handel's Messiah in Weill Hall. Long an annual tradition at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, the ABS took to the road and delivered a Christmas gift of epic proportions to an obviously thrilled and enth
Symphony
SHOSTAKOVICH FIFTH THUNDERS AT WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 5, 2021
In a new season marketed as “Classical Reunion,” the Santa Rosa Symphony made a palpable connection with its audience at the early December set of three standing ovation concerts in Weill Hall. The December 5 concert, with 1,000 attending, is reviewed here. Vaughan Williams’ popular Fantasia on a T
Chamber
THE LINCOLN RETURNS WITH CLARKE'S PUNGENT TRIO
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, November 18, 2021
There were many familiar faces Nov. 18 during Music at Oakmont’s initial concert of the season, but perhaps the most necessary were the three musicians of the Lincoln Piano Trio, the Chicago-based group that has performed often in Oakmont since 2006. A smaller than unusual audience in Berger Audito
Symphony
NOSTALGIC BARBER KNOXVILLE AT SO CO PHIL JACKSON THEATER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
In their first Jackson Theater appearance of the new season the Sonoma County Philharmonic presented Nov. 14 a program devoid of novelty, but showcasing the “People’s Orchestra” in splendid performance condition after a long COVID-related layoff. Conductor Norman Gamboa drew a committed and boister
Chamber
THRILLING PIANO QUINTETS IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 14, 2021
The Mill Valley Chamber Music Society sprang back to life on November 14 when a stellar ensemble from the Manhattan Chamber Players, a New York-based collective, arrived to perform two piano quintets: Vaughn-Williams’ in C Minor (1903), little known and rarely performed; and Schubert’s in A Major D.
Chamber
MUSCULAR BRAHMS FROM IVES COLLECTIVE IN GLASER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Leaving SRJC’s Newman Auditorium for the first time in decades, the College’s Chamber Concert Series presented a season-opening concert Nov. 14 in Santa Rosa’s Glaser Center with the four-musician Bay-Area based Ives Collective. The season, the first given since 2020, is dedicated to Series Founder
Symphony
MONUMENTAL BRAHMS SYMPHONY HIGHLIGHTS MARIN SYMPHONY RETURN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 7, 2021
In the waning COVID pandemic the Marin Symphony is one of the last Bay Area orchestras to return to the stage, and they did with considerable fanfare Nov. 7 before 1,200 in Civic Center Auditorium, with resident conductor Alasdair Neale leading a demanding concert of Brahms, Schumann and New York-ba
Symphony
APOLLO'S FIRE LIGHTS UP VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Long ago the Canadian violin virtuoso Gil Shaham played a program in Weill Hall of solo Bach, with a visual backdrop of slowly developing visuals, such as a pokey flower opening over four minutes. The Bach was sensational, and some in the audience liked the photos but many found them disconcerting,
Chamber
SPARKLING WIND, STRING, HARP MUSIC AT DEVON HOUSE GARDEN CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Take a mild autumn evening, a garden gazebo with patterned rugs and lit with soft bulbs, shake in a fine chamber ensemble, add a rising new moon, and you have a recipe for the musical delight that violist Elizabeth Prior presented Oct. 9 in her Devon House Garden Concert series. The Marin Terra Li
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Santa Rosa Symphony / Sunday, October 6, 2013
Bruno Ferrandis, conductor. Tedi Papavrami, violin

Violinist Tedi Paparvrami

FOUR-SQUARE AND FORMIDABLE

by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 6, 2013

Perhaps the four syllables of Dmitri Shostakovich's last name are what inspired him to write so many works in four movements, with a predilection for 4/4 time. Two of those works were on sonic display Oct. 6 at the Santa Rosa Symphony's opening concert set: his Symphony No. 5, with the customary four movements, and his violin concerto, with an unusual four instead of the standard three. The contents of these works are mostly four-square, both rhythmically and melodically, as exemplified by the four-note theme in the concerto that spells out the composer's abbreviated name.

What this abundance of fours does is to make for satisfying, crowd-pleasing music that runs the gamut of human emotions within a well-defined frame. The performance in this case was exceptional, with stupendous work from violin soloist Tedi Papavrami and inspired playing by the orchestra under Music Director Bruno Ferrandis.

Papavrami is an ideal candidate for the four-loving, quadraphilic Shostakovich. Clad entirely in black, with a dead-serious expression at all times, he resembles a boxer negotiating a four-square ring. His customary stance--knees bent, feet shoulder-width apart, hands up, ready to punch--is the essence of pugilism. Undeterred by the laws of physics governing human fingers, he delivers nothing but knockouts.

Playing a modern violin by the Lisbon-based Christian Bayon, Papavrami filled Weill Hall to overflowing with lush, liquid sound. The languorous opening movement of the concerto--a Nocturne--was a perfect foil for his gorgeous tone and lapidary technique. Every aspect of his playing was well controlled, from the vibrato to the double stops to the razor-sharp intonation in the upper registers. As the Nocturne progressed, the sound became shimmering and iridescent, hovering over the audience like a gentle rain.

Shattering the calm, Papavrami drove relentlessly into the Scherzo second movement, holding his own in a series of intimidating syncopations, and striking chords with machine-like precision. The orchestra kept pace, ending with a dramatic crescendo. The third frame--a Passacaglia--was both stately and majestic, punctuated by occasional blasts from the tuba. The pacing evoked a long march over a challenging landscape, and toward the end Papavrami's lower strings really began to resonate. This led to a long cadenza marked by complete silence in the hall as Papavrami coaxed more and more sound out of his instrument, featuring (what else?) four-note clusters followed by full chords and lightning runs.

Papavrami could have retired from the ring after the cadenza, but he went one more round with the final Burlesque, displaying incredible energy as he dashed off its many virtuosic passages. The ovation at the end was instantaneous and sustained, but sadly did not lead to a solo encore.

An encore of sorts did arrive in the second half, as the orchestra trotted out to play more Shostakovich, this time his popular Symphony No. 5. This modern masterpiece is definitely a Fifth Symphony, with a clear nod to Beethoven in the opening phrase. The strings had a particularly clean sound, with remarkable unanimity and a full, rich bass. The image of the march emerged once again in the opening movement, reinforced by the percussion, a gradual acceleration, and then a heroic unison that found Ferrandis jumping up and down on the podium. Turning on a dime, the orchestra ended tenderly, with a wonderful solo from concertmaster Joseph Edelberg.

The Allegretto second movement is one of Shostakovich's best-known works, and its dancing 3/4 rhythm stands in stark contrast to the rest of the symphony. Ferrandis responded well to the change in mood, evoking a lilting pace with restrained motions. The mood changed once again with the ensuing Largo, perhaps the most heartfelt music of the afternoon. The oboe solo over violin tremolo was outstanding, and the feeling projected throughout the movement was sublime, sustained all the way to the final resolving chord.

The exact opposite prevailed in the concluding Allegro. The trumpets blared out the rollicking theme, and then controlled mayhem ensued, with the orchestra regularly rising to triple forte. Timpanist Andrew Lewis was particularly fun to watch, as he held his mallets gleefully in the air, preparing for the next thundering descent. An authoritative boom from the bass drum brought the proceedings to a close.

Lest the reader think that the Santa Rosa Symphony plays only Shostakovich, the concert did begin with John Adams' iconic "Short Ride in a Fast Machine," now almost 30 years old. This too was four-square in its fashion, actually more four-geared, as the orchestra shifted rapidly from one layer of sound to the next. This thrilling piece, which helped bring Minimalism into the mainstream, sounds somewhat tame these days, prompting the elderly patron next to me to remark to her companion, "I actually sort of liked it."