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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

Conductor Sarah Ioannides

MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019

The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concert, the third in the set, is reviewed here.

Conductor Sarah Ioannides proved throughout the evening to have a firm control of the music and the wonderful SRS players, but offered no particular interpretative revelations during the 89 minutes of music. Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel’s C Major Overture opened the program and passed without much notice, despite lovely string ensemble playing, Meredith Brown’s horn solo and musical references to Von Weber’s overtures.

Clara Schumann’s A Minor Concerto, Op. 7, completed the first half with pianist Sara Davis Buechner as piano soloist. This is a difficult work to sound convincing in a modern concert hall, as the themes are conventional and the harmonic progressions seem aimless. The 1833 work begins with dramatic octaves crashing down (as in Robert Schumann’s A Minor Concerto from 1845) but much of the passagework, runs and arpeggios don’t lie easily for the soloist’s technique. Ms. Ioannides kept the sonic balances in check, and deferred to Ms. Buechner in the big thematic statements in the allegro maestoso and in the stirring romanze with the fetching duo of the pianist and cellist Adelle-Akiko Kearns. This use of a cello solo was unique in concertos of the time, even one that has a strong resemblance to the music of Hummel and Moscheles.

The finale had music and playing of more individuality, and handsome flute solos from Kathleen Lane Reynolds. Ms. Buechner’s playing sounded labored at times, and surprisingly she used score with a page turner, something now never seen with virtuoso pianists in conventional repertoire in an urban hall. Oddly it was Madame Schumann that was one of the first to play concerted works from memory, with this piece 186 years now old.

Readers interested in first rate Clara Schumann music might consult her Piano Trio and the heart-on-sleeve Romance from the Op. 22 Suite, the latter played in Weill Feb. 8 by violinist Joshua Bell and Pianist Sam Haywood.

Following intermission Robert Schumann’s dramatic and dark-hued E-Flat Major Overture, Op. 115, was heard. This is echt Schumann with continual reference to the Rhenish (3rd) Symphony, though the charm and sparkling hues of the Rhenish are absent. Ms. Ioannides drew a compelling performance with sterling trumpet duets from Kale Cumings and Scott Macomber. String sound was potent, with the usual SRS sitting of second violins stage left giving sectional differentiation.

The evening’s finest music came with Mendelssohn’s E-Flat Major Symphony (Op. 56, “Scottish”), a work the conductor fashioned with energy and elegant phrasing. After a solemn introduction things became impassioned (at allegro un poco) with a juxtaposition of orchestral light and mystery, but always a dense sound that this listener (in the balcony) found compelling. There was continual timpani artistry of Andrew Lewis. The composer omitted trombones but the Symphony’s seven basses and five horns gave strong thematic underpinning through the 41-minute work. Wind playing in the adagio had lovely small touches, with Ms. Lane, clarinetist Roy Zajac and oboist Laura Reynolds in lovely trios and duos.

Ms. Ioannides drove the concluding fiercely energetic allegro maestoso assai to a potent conclusion, beginning early in the movement to build the momentum, albeit with small songful pianissimo sections that slowed at times but never diminished the drama.

A standing ovation from most of the 850 in Weill seemingly compelled the conductor to recognize many of the Symphony’s musicians, and additional applause.

Virginia Eskin and Daniel Glover contributed to this review.