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Chamber
SPARKLING WIND, STRING, HARP MUSIC AT DEVON HOUSE GARDEN CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Take a mild autumn evening, a garden gazebo with patterned rugs and lit with soft bulbs, shake in a fine chamber ensemble, add a rising new moon, and you have a recipe for the musical delight that violist Elizabeth Prior presented Oct. 9 in her Devon House Garden Concert series. The Marin Terra Li
Recital
AUTHORITATIVE BEETHOVEN SONATA IN KLEIN'S OCCIDENTAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, October 8, 2021
People attending the first Redwood Arts Council Occidental concert in 20 months found a surprise – a luxurious new lobby attached to the Performing Arts Center. It was a welcome bonus to a recital given by pianist Andreas Klein where the music seemed almost as familiar as was the long shuttered hal
Symphony
MOVIE MUSIC ON THE WINDSOR GREEN IN SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 3, 2021
People approaching the Windsor Green bandstand Oct. 3 for the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s season opening concert had some cause for concern. After 18 months of silence would the all-volunteer orchestra have enough musicians for a big movie music program? After all, performers can move, retire, or
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY RETURNS IN TRIUMPH
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 3, 2021
It is often the case that a single piece or performer steals the show at a symphony concert, but at the Oct. 3 performance of the Santa Rosa Symphony, the show itself stole the show. The concert opened with a serene 1982 tone poem by Libby Larsen, followed by a masterful performance by soloist Julia
Symphony
TWO WIND SOLOISTS CHARM AT SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 26, 2021
The house of music has many rooms. That dusty adage was never truer than when Weill Hall Sept. 25 hosted a roaring New Orleans-style musical party, and less than a day later a mostly sedate Sonoma State University student orchestra performance. Before a crowd of 200 conductor Alexander Kahn led a
Other
CLEARY'S NEW ORLEANS BAND IGNITES PARTY FOR THE GREEN AT SSU
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 25, 2021
A dramatic and unique start to the new Green Music’s Center’ 2021-2022 season exploded in a “Party for the Green” Sept. 25, a New Orleans (NO) style commotion featuring Jon Cleary and his Absolute Monster Gentlemen band, inside and outside of Weill Hall. Beginning with a private gourmet dinner in t
GAULIST FLAVOR IN FINAL SF PIANO FESTIVAL CONCERT AT OLD FIRST
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Final summer music festival programs are often a mix of what has come before, with the theme and even a featured composer taking a last stage appearance, with a dramatic wrap up composition. San Francisco’s International Piano Festival defied the norm August 29 with an eclectic French-flavored prog
SPARE DUO PRECEDES MYSTEROUS DUO AT DEN BOER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, August 27, 2021
In a departure from usual summer festival fare Julia Den Boer played an August 27 virtual recital in the San Francisco Piano Festival’s 4.5 season with four works, all mostly quiet but all in separate ways insistently demanding of artist and listener. Throughout the 40 minutes there was nary a powe
HARMONIC COMPLEXITY IN PHILLIPS' ALL-GRIFFES RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, August 20, 2021
Charles Griffes’ piano music is similar to that of Busoni, Reger and even Poulenc, in that there is a sporadic flourish of interest with concerts and scholarly work, then a quick fade into another long period of obscurity. So, it was a delight to have an all-Griffes recital August 20 on the San F
Chamber
ONE PIANO, TWO PIANO, THREE PIANO, FORE
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Schroeder Hall was nearly full July 29 for the final pianoSonoma concert of their season, and presumably the draw and highlight for many of the 150 attending was Bach’s Concerto for Four Pianos. And that performance was probably going to be a North Bay premiere. However, it wasn’t the highl
SYMPHONY REVIEW

Violinist Pierce Wang with Conductor Norman Gamboa

ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL EXCITEMENT IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT IN JACKSON

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 16, 2019

Beginning with a scintillating reading of Rossini’s Overture to the Opera “Semiramide,” the Sonoma County Philharmonic performed a splendid program Nov. 16 in the Jackson Theater, and featured two additional works, one showcasing the winner of the San Francisco Conservatory’s Young Artist Award.

It’s pretty hard to not move your body with Rossini’s infectious rhythms and thematic charm, and the audience of 200 seemed to enjoy doing so, even with conductor Norman Gamboa adopting mostly poky tempos and conventional phrasing. The horn section sounded pungently brassy and oboist Chris Krive’s elegant playing paralleled the virtuosity of Debra Scheüerman’s flute and the smile inducing high-wire piccolo line of Emily Reynolds. This Overture from the early 1820s is a sure-fire opening for whatever comes next in the program, usually musically disparate. Loud bravos and applause were heard.

And different Prokofiev’s D Major Violin Concerto was, with the young soloist Pierce Wang playing without score, and though it took a while for him to get going, he did catch the mysterious shimmer of the opening chords. His upper register was his most secure, and the So Co Phil woodwind section gave admirable support throughout the opening Andantino – Andante. Christina Kopriva’s harp solos were always audible. In the second Adagio di molto movement the composer’s dissonant harmonies were strikingly played in the brass and Mr. Wang’s octave playing, with occasional pitch variance, combined in duos with the flute and piccolo. Ms. Kopriva played a lovely glissando half way through and the high strings sang again the melancholy first theme.

Fine bassoon (Miranda Kincaid) and clarinet playing were heard in the finale, with Floyd Reinhart’s tuba line heard clearly behind the pyrotechnical virtuosity from the soloist’s double stops, quasi-sarcastic tune projection and fast ascending scale passages. Surprisingly the Concerto ended with a long fermata in D major, and a return to the quiet shimmer of the opening. It was haunting and beautiful. The applause was long and strong, with a bouquet for Mr. Wang, one curtain call, a short speech by an SF Conservatory Dean, but no soloist encore.

There had been talk that County fire-related abbreviated rehearsals could affect the Orchestra’s ability to manage the many rhythmic complexities of Rachmaninoff’s Op. 45 Symphonic Dances. But no worry, as Mr. Gamboa drew a performance that underscored the composer’s brilliant orchestration with glittering playing in each section. In three loose movements the Dances have consonant harmonies and include sad themes with a seemingly Czarist Russian color and flavor. Contributing to the rich sonic mix were Mr. Krive and clarinetist Nick Xenelis; bass clarinetist Kathy Brooks, harp and Orchestra pianist Carol Schindler .

Short march sections featured four horns and at times three trumpets, and the playing veered in the Lento assai – Allegro from and occasional raw sonic “edge” to a swaying 1930s dance character, with difficult undulating passages for the violins. The conductor found the nostalgic warmth that underlies even the most demanding writing, a character of the composer’s music from this 1940 work and the A Minor Symphony (his third) that came just four years before. The woodwinds in this movement were first cabin, as were Dave Lindgren’s trumpet playing and the bright snare drum rattle from an unannounced percussion player.

It was altogether a wholly creditable and convincing concert, the second in a set of two. Mr. Gamboa conducts an all French program (Debussy, Ravel, Berlioz) the first two days of February in Jackson, the Philharmonic’s penultimate concert of the 2019/2020 season.