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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
Mendocino Music Festival / Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Allan Pollack, conductor. Frederick von Stade and Melissa Angulo, soprano; Jeremiah Smith, bass-baritone

Frederick Von Stade (l) and Melissa Angula July 22 with Alan Pollack Photo (N. Wilson photo)

MOZART'S GENIUS UPSTAGES DIVA, YOUTH AND CONDUCTOR IN STERLING MMF CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mendocino’s eclectic Music Festival gave a strong imprimatur to the Mozart theme July 22 with a radiant orchestral and vocal concert in the big white tent on the Mendocino headlands.

The Overture from “The Abduction from the Seraglio” (K. 384) opened the concert in an adroit reading that was a happy prelude to the anticipated singing and the famous final Mozart Symphony.

In the first half works associated with Mozart’s operas were heard, and the starring role was given to the splendid mezzo-soprano Fredericka Von Stade. The venerable artist sang two arias (“Vedrai Carino” from Don Giovanni and “Una donna a quindici anni” from Cosi Fan Tutte), charmed the audience with repartee as only a diva can do, and joined with two young singers from Berkeley in sparkling duets. Jeremiah Smith came first with the “La ci darem” from Don Giovanni, a baritone aria that he sang with refinement but without the requisite power, and Ms. Von Stade was his perfect foil as Zerlina. More vocal potency came from soprano Melissa Angula in “Come scoglio” (Cosi), the singing being energetic but top notes were shrill and the orchestra covered her at times. Ms. Angula commands and long and even trills.

How is Ms. Von Stade at this point in a career that began 45 years ago in New York? She still has a lyrical Cherubino (Marriage of Figaro) with deft communication and élan if slightly reduced projection and vocal color, and she ebulliently commanded every inch of the stage. In the duo with Ms. Angula they sang from a faux score that when turned over revealed and large Nicholas Wilson photo of Mr. Pollack, to much laughter and apparently was unforeseen by the conductor. Ovations during this set from the audience of 750 were long and loud.

As good as the singing was, the C Major Symphony (K. 551, “Jupiter”) was the concert’s highlight. Here conductor Alan Pollack brought mostly moderate tempos to the four movements of Mozart’s last and greatest symphonic work. Solid brass and flute (Mindy Rosenfeld) playing characterized the opening Allegro Vivace with several modulations bringing the composer’s dramatic contrasts into relief and a lovely oboe solo from Thomas Nugent.

The Andante had a personal character with pathos and an occasional rhythmic surprise. The muted strings sounded suitably rich. The Minuet was played in the manner of Haydn, richly blossoming into the Trio of winds and strings. The conductor controlled all very well, letting the tympani give just the right foundation support.

If the multi-fugue finale doesn’t excite an audience, no Mozart symphony movement will, and here Mr. Pollack drove a quiet beginning into a swifter tempo than anything before. The many short themes whirled by with a lot of energy, and the conductor never let the polyphony become murky, even with the tent’s unique acoustics and at elevated volumes.

It was an uplifting and cogent performance, down to the final six epochal chords that were in a small way an additional declaration of Mozart’s compositional genius.