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Recital
DYNAMIC PIANISM IN YAKUSHEV MARIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev arrived Jan. 23 at his Mill Valley Chamber Music Society recital with the repute of playing loud and fast and delivering charming introductory musical remarks to his audience. He was true to form in Mill Valley’s Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church, preceding Haydn’s sple
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,
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Sonoma County Philharmonic / Sunday, January 24, 2016
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Bruce Chrisp, trombone

Trombonist Bruce Chrisp

SOLO AND ENSEMBLE BRASS PEAL POWERFULLY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 24, 2016

Known for its novel programming, the Sonoma County Philharmonic has frequently engaged local soloists, with flutist Kathleen Reynolds and pianists Lauren Xie and Marilyn Thompson coming quickly to mind. In their Jan. 23 concert, featuring German composers, conductor Norman Gamboa united a rare mid 19th mini concerto for trombone with another Sonoma County soloist, Bruce Chrisp.

Playing the Ferdinand David Op. 4 Concertino, Mr. Chrisp gave the 1841 piece a convincing performance without score before 250 in the Santa Rosa High School’s Performing Arts Center. His control of the seemingly unwieldy instrument was surefooted, even when the notes jumped from the low register to repeated and drawn-out high pitches. Thematic statements were boldly projected and the pesky trills confidently attacked.

There was no break between the Allegro and the melodramatic Andante and Mr. Chrisp was impressive in swelling volume in the low register and the beautiful long-held note at the end of the movement.
Most of the audience held their breath until the note stopped.

Music in the concluding Allegro was a little operatic in places, tuneful with a predictable cadenza and a heroically played ending from the soloist. Respond to loud bravos, Mr. Chrisp accepted a bouquet and impishly stick it into the horn of his ineffable instrument.

Brahms’ E Minor Symphony (Op. 98) closed the concert, a conservative format work composed at the time of Wagner’s symphonic radicalism and Mahler’s first Symphony. It may be “old fashioned” in style but its beauty and craftsmanship are beyond reproach. Horns are critical in the opening Allegro and Mr. Gamboa gave the SoCoPhil’s horn quartet, led by Eric Anderson and Bruce Blaikie, full rein. The lovely opening themes were played invitingly and in a dialogue between the first and second violins. Woodwinds (clarinetists Nick Xenelis and Cathy Brooks) and pizzicato strings played a vigorous variant of the first theme under Mr. Gamboa’s restrained direction.

This trenchantly grim movement came to a close with timpanist Walt Bodley’s powerful strokes, and the slow movement began with idyllic music from the horns, and later from flutists Emily Reynolds and Debra Scheuerman. The cutoffs were good and the conductor’s control developed the majesty of the writing.

In the third movement Ms. Reynolds’ piccolo and Mary Gillespie-Greenberg’s ringing triangle made the ever-changing harmonies in a rambunctious Scherzo sound almost giddy.

Brahms wrote a powerful Passacaglia to close his Fourth Symphony, using a form of variations (32 in all) on a repeated bass or reiterated harmonic progression. Woodwinds and brass (now joined for the first time by trombones) are prominent, with rolling drums, and Mr. Gamboa had his hands full keeping continuity and clarity in the tempo changes. There is passion and release in this movement, all driving to a conclusion that blanketed some of the string sounds. The ovation was long enough for the conductor to recognize individual musicians and one section.

Weber’s Overture to the 1824 Opera “Oberon” opened the program, a merry and suave ten-minute work that lacked string power but featured potent brass playing.