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Chamber
STYLISH HAYDN QUARTETS CLOSE GREEN ROOM SERIES
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Completing the Green Music Center’s spring series series of “Green Room” virtual concerts, the St. Lawrence String Quartet played May 9 a lightweight program of two Haydn works. Lightweight perhaps, but in every way satisfying. The G Major Quartet (Op. 76, No.1) began the music that was supplement...
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...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Saturday, February 14, 2015
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Charles Dutoit, conductor. Nikolai Lugansky, piano

Conductor Charles Dutoit

CHAMPAGNE ORGY OF SWISS ORCHESTRA'S SOUND IN WEILL

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 14, 2015

Orchestras on tour usually perform hefty display works to showoff their virtuosity and power. And so it was with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (OSR) Feb. 14 in Weill Hall. Big works, weighty display. And in a surprise the compositions by Stravinsky and Ravel in the second half did the rare thing of upstaging a popular Rachmaninoff piece with piano.

Debussy’s Ibéria opened the concert and the performance established the OSR as a resplendent ensemble with a charismatic leader. Conductor Charles Dutoit directed in a taught reading where the Spanish flavor of the 1908 tone poem only appeared near the end with the sound of castanets, trombone slides and glowing melodies in the bassoons. and oboes.

Mr. Dutoit has a direct but never extravagant podium style, using the score for each of the four works and conveying cues effortlessly to the 80-person OSR, all clad in black with the men in tails and the women in stylish dresses and pant suits.

The overshadowed item was Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op 43, with Mr. Dutoit and pianist Nikolai Lugansky in happy agreement about tempos and phrasing. In many ways it’s a more difficult work to perform than Rachmaninoff’s C and D-Minor Concertos, as many of the variations and tricky rhythms can cause ensemble problems. But here all was in place with the soloist’s sure technical command in evidence in the flashy cadenza of Variation 15 and inimitable playing from the brass. That said, it was a conventional performance with orthodox phrasing and style. Pleasing in every way but a bit prosaic, even at the repeated “Dies Irae” plainchant motifs so familiar with this composer. At the end the audience recalled Mr. Lugansky three times but there was no encore. Concertmaster Bogdan Zvoristeanu played compelling solos as he did throughout the evening

Mr. Dutoit led a concluding half that was a champagne orgy in sound, beginning with Stravinsky’s Song of the Nightingalesuite from his ballet. Here the playing from the entire wind section, especially from flutists Sarah Rumer and Loïe Schneider, was brilliant, and the conductor carefully managed the many short inter-section duos: solo violin and winds, trumpets and strings, harps and celesta.

Sonic splendor continued with a performance of Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2, another work extracted from a ballet. The French’s composer’s style, so familiar from the Mother Goose Suite and Impressionist piano works, brought forth gorgeous string playing, and Mr. Dutoit’s command of changes of volume and orchestral texture was faultless. Again solos from the winds were shapely and Mr. Dutoit clearly has this music in his Swiss (and surely Gallic) blood, controlling the knotty Danse Générale with a fluid but precise beat.

I have heard many Weill Hall ovations that have been louder than the one the OSR received, but perhaps none longer. The audience of 1,100 adopted a European-style of approval with stamping feet and continuous applause, and the conductor was called out four times. An encore was not forthcoming and Mr. Dutoit finally waved his hands, signaling that the musicians wanted to finally leave what had been a memorable concert.