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EXOTIC RUSSIAN MUSIC FEATURED IN MV PHIL CONCERT
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Thursday, May 19, 2022
Symphony
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Chamber
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Recital
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Choral and Vocal
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Symphony
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by Terry McNeill
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Chamber
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Chamber
TANGO IMMERSION IN MILL VALLEY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 27, 2022
SYMPHONY REVIEW

Cynthia Weichel (left) and members of the North Bay Sinfonietta

AMPLE EVIDENCE OF A BRIGHT FUTURE

by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 14, 2014

An inaugural concert for a new area orchestra is a special deal, and the fledgling North Bay Sinfonietta’s March 14 concert in Santa Rosa’s First Presbyterian Church gave ample evidence of a bright future.

Organized and conducted by Cynthia Weichel, the Sinfonietta’s 30-plus members filled the cramped sanctuary stage and played four disparate works to a cheerful audience of 75. Boieldieu’s Overture to “La Dame Blanche” passed without much notice, the brass overly loud and Cynthia Shanklin’s flute playing a standout.

A Vivaldi Sinfonia in C Major (“L’incoronazione di Dario,” RV 719) came next. It was well played, but at times the ensemble was ragged. As with most amateur orchestras, the Sinfonietta's string intonation is frequently variable, entrances and cutoffs are inexact, high string sound is weak, and odd chirps can sporadically be heard that are not in the score. That said, the Vivaldi and especially the following Symphony No. 26 of Mozart, K. 184, had many lovely moments. Ms. Weichel’s direction has an easy-going stability, and the drama, sonic contrasts and pensive mood of Mozart's symphony were carefully drawn. The ensemble was most precise in the lighter sections and at lower volumes.

Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B Minor (“Unfinished”), D. 759, comprised the entire second half. The soft and somber beginning was elegant. Though Ms. Weichel had the score at hand, she seldom looked at it, and under her baton the Sinfonietta caught the passion and dark momentum of the opening Allegro. The climaxes were built with force and spotlighted Marc Helfman’s clarinet solos. It was the group’s best playing of the evening.

A new orchestra in the North Bay may fill a performing gap, with community musicians performing in varied small venues; the Sinfonietta has scheduled its second concert May 2 in the same church. It joins a formidable list of North Bay ensembles: American Philharmonic Sonoma County, Symphony of the Redwoods, Ukiah Symphony, Philharmonia Healdsburg, Santa Rosa Symphony, Marin Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra, Mill Valley Philharmonic, Santa Rosa Chamber Orchestra and with four yearly concerts in Weill Hall, the San Francisco Symphony.