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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
Vallejo Symphony / Sunday, January 31, 2016
Marc Taddei,conductor. Hadleigh Adams, baritone

Conductor Marc Taddei

VSO SEASON FINALE FEATURES COMMANDING CONDUCTING

by Elizabeth Warnimont
Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Zealand conductor Marc Taddei led the Vallejo Symphony Jan. 31 in “The Composer's Muse,” a program that emphasized the uniqueness of each selection, in Vallejo’s Hogan Auditorium. An audience of nearly 350 was the largest in the past two seasons.

The concert marks the last of three audition concerts at Hogan, conducted by candidates to replace David Ramadanoff as Music Director and to begin with the 2016-2017 season. The conductor told the audience in a pre-concert talk that each programmed work highlighted some of the less conforming, or more unusual pieces written by some of classical music's most celebrated composers.

Stravinsky was commissioned to write the ballet Apollo for no more than six dancers and lasting no longer than 30 minutes. The composer chose as his subject the Greek god Apollo, leader of the muses, though reducing the number of muses from nine to three: Calliope, the muse of poetry and rhythm; Polyhymnia, that of sacred music and mime; and Terpsichore, the muse of dance. “It is the most serene work of high modernism,” Taddei opined.

The piece opens with a distinctly serene, stately march and transitions seamlessly into its second, more sprightly and melodic part, all executed beautifully by the orchestra. The Pas d'Action (“Expressive Dance”) portion, was the most captivating part of all, its melodies continuing through rhythmic changes and subtle mood variations with sublime grace. It seemed as if the orchestra found its own muse from that point forward, continuing through the story parts of the work, in which the music represents the mythical characters in turn, with equal ease and grace.

The second selection proved a pleasant surprise, as Beethoven's “An die ferne Geliebte,” composed from 1815 to 1816, was performed with the addition of the extraordinary baritone Hadleigh Adams, also a New Zealander. Here Mr. Adams lent perfectly tempered power and clarity, if not pure emotion, to his part in the deeply romantic song cycle. Mr. Taddei explained that “An die ferne Geliebte” was one of the first of its kind, the Liederkreis or song cycle, to be embraced by a major composer. He related that while Beethoven's symphonic forms were eventually copied, this song cycle model was more immediately reproduced and embraced by his contemporaries.

“An die ferne Geliebte” was arranged for orchestra in 1915 by Felix Weingartner, and was originally written for only voice and piano and based on the poems of Alois Isidor Jeittles. In the printed program notes a song cycle is described being loose collection of songs, or more than the sum of its parts. The voice part occurring in each of the composition's six songs is consistently one of a lover who is far from his beloved, who sees all around him natural metaphors for both closeness and separation, none of which can offer him solace.

The first song tells of the lover perched on a hill, viewing with longing the hills and valleys that now separate him from his beloved: “Denn vor Liebesklang entweichet/ Jeder Raum und jede Zeit/ Und ein liebend Herz erreichet/ Was ein liebend Herz geweiht!” (“For the sound of love escapes/ From all of space and all of time,/ And a loving heart will reach/ What a loving heart holds dear!”). Subsequent song parts, which connect without pause between them, liken the lover's longing variously to mountains, clouds and streams, concluding in the final song with the repeated refrain, “Und ein liebend Herz erreichet/ Was ein liebend Herz geweiht!”

The words of the songs are intensely romantic, clearly evocative of the German romantic period in literature and the arts. They are passionate and that is precisely the element that was lacking in the performance by both the orchestra and the singer. The Orchestra seemed unable to meld their execution with Mr. Adams, and while extraordinary in tone, they seemed often quite connected to the music’s notes but entirely set apart from the lover's heart. One heard the soloist’s urgency and an emotional connection to the music, but not so much the passion of a lover separated from the object of his desire.

Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, a work in E Minor completed in 1888, completed the concert. The conductor spoke to the audience concerning an unusual aspect of the Firth is that that the score does not contain Tchaikovsky's metronome marks, and he conducts the piece with tempos similar to the composer’s contemporaneous works, rather than the almost universally performed tempos which reflect the composer's last works. Specifically, the first movement is the most remarkably different from typical performances in its significantly increased tempos. “It turns into a bit of a balletic waltz,” he noted. “Toward the end of his life, Stravinsky lamented that he was sick of performers mangling his intentions. So let's respect the composer's intentions.”

The opening theme from clarinetists Diane Maltester and Ann Lavin was played beautifully with a delicate and melancholy emotion. Just as that theme developed in intensity, the comfortable consistency was abruptly broken with a developing cacophony of sound as the movement entered its technically impressive but highly dissonant heart, a hurried and harried jumble of motif variations.

The second (Andante cantabile) movement is much sweeter, and the VSO's brass accentuated it brilliantly, complemented by expertly timed accents from timpanist Brian Anderson. By the end of the movement, the orchestra seemed to be fully warmed to the piece, coming together more fluidly and sounding brilliantly expressive in the crescendo passages. That fluidity extended beautifully into the third, waltz movement, the early bassoon solo from Karla Ekholm shining through like a perfect rose.

In the final Andante Maestoso movement, the initial theme develops quietly in a major key, giving way to another loud and busy passage, working up to an assertive conclusion. While the orchestra well mastered the “bang” moments with sharp synchronicity and clarity, some of the supporting, quieter passages revealed the group's earlier, less well-synced playing. In addition to the brilliant crescendos, highlights included sensitive phrasing from the strings and again well timed accents from the timpanist. The first violins, led by concertmaster Joyce Lee, played elegantly.

Mr. Taddei demonstrated alert control throughout the concert, as well as a penchant for challenging innuendo in music. He seemed personable and commanding on the podium.

Audience surveys of the three conductor candidates will be used in the selection process, with the results to be announced by the VSO Board of Directors this year.