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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
Green Music Center / Sunday, June 28, 2015
Musicians include: Jeffrey Kahane, Jennifer Koh, Margaret Batjer, Benjamin Beilman, Elizabeth Prior, Peter Lloyd, Laura Reynolds, Russ deLuna, Leo Tsui, Douglas Brown, Benjamin Jaber, Danielle Kuhlmann, Robert deMaine, Aloysia Friedmann, Daniel Ching, William Fedkenhuer, John Largess, Joshua Gindele, Elise Shop Henry, Sandy Hughes and Joseph Edelberg

Pianist/Harpsichordist Jeffrey Kahane

BRANDENBURGS A SPIRITUAL GIFT IN FINAL CHAMBERFEST CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, June 28, 2015

“Well, you should have been there.” A trite saying used too often by concertgoers? Sure. But surely it was the appropriate adage for the final Chamberfest concert June 28 in Sonoma State’s Weill Hall.

Capping a nine-event series mostly in Schroeder Hall, Jeffrey Kahane led ensembles of up to 20 musicians in an extraordinary traversal of Bach’s complete Brandenburg Concertos. Written in the small Thuringia town of Cöthen in 1721, the six are multi-movement works of instrumental complexity, underpinned in each by harpsichord continuo and strong bass and cello lines. The program notes referred to this complexity: A presentation of all concertos in a single evening requires a performing group of incredible depth, with individual musicians who are comfortable as both featured soloists and ensemble players.

As the works progressed during the first half (No. 1 in F Major, No. 3 in G Major, No. 5 in D Major) I found myself thinking at each ending, “That was sensational; that was my favorite,” only to uncover a new favorite when hearing the next Concerto. In the famous harpsichord solo in the D Major’s first movement Mr. Kahane played elegantly but as usual for him did something novel. At the section’s conclusion where the finger pyrotechnics and fast trills are ending, the music seems to call for a ritard and phrase broadening, an intimate invitation for the re-entry of ensemble. That’s the way it’s usually played, but he never broke tempo and moved straight to the finish with just a slight nod to his colleagues.

Throughout the evening thrilling playing abounded, especially from violinists Benjamin Bielman and Margaret Batjer, oboists Ashley Ertz and Laura Reynolds, flutists Sandy Hughes and Elise Shope Henry (Concerto No. 4) and trumpeter David Washburn in the concluding No. 2 Concerto. Some of the instruments were not of the Baroque era (oboes for example) but Mr. Washburn played the piercing Baroque trumpet with consummate skill, even able to integrate his luminous sound into the sonic texture when needed.

All through the program string vibrato was present but of low volume and short duration, even in the extended solo violin passages by Bach veteran Jennifer Koh in Concerto No. 1, and in the viola playing of Elizabeth Prior and Aloysia Friedmann in No. 6 that began the second half. In Number 6 the lovely Adagio was performed romantically but with a Baroque sensibility, as were the lament-like slow movements of No. 5 (Affettuoso) and No. 4 (Andante). In the latter Mr. Bielman carried the main theme with blistering scale playing and subtle phrase turns and slides.

The frequent interior-movement ensembles were captivating: cellist Andrew Shulman and violinist Daniel Ching joined by oboe and flute; a contrapuntal viola duo in No. 6; the harpsichord introduction with arpeggios in No. 3, the artist handing off a distant theme to the strings; and Ms. Batjer’s entrancing duo with Ms. Hughes in the Allegro of No. 5.

Preceding the final Concerto Mr. Kahane addressed the audience about the power of Bach’s music to overcome the often unspeakable political and social events of our day, and the spiritual force contained in the compositions of the featured Chamberfest composers: Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.

As at the end of the first part, the rollicking No. 6 produced a tornado of applause, and all the musicians were called to a line at the front of the stage. One audience member brought a single red rose for Mr. Kahane.

As the audience of 700 left the Hall there wasn’t the usual ecstatic chatter about the music, but something of a glow of happiness on many faces. This had been a seminal evening, due of course to the producer Zarin Mehta and his staff, the wonderful musicians, the vision of Jeffrey Kahane, but mostly to a man dead for 265 years. Bach.