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SIX GUITARISTS IN UNIQUE NAPA RECITAL
by Gary Digman
Sunday, July 25, 2021
The first Napa Valley Guitar Festival was held at Napa’s First Presbyterian Church July 25, and featured performances from six classical guitarists. The Church is an iconic structure in downtown Napa, its huge white presence dominating the scene, and the white theme continues inside punctuated by be
Chamber
CLARA SCHUMANN TRIO COMMANDS VOM CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT AT HANNA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 24, 2021
The Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Series has begun several virtual and a few live concerts in its new seventh season, some broadcast from Sonoma’s Hanna Center Hall and some in posh local venues. July 24’s video had a small live audience and a well-produced video program of three works. Titled “
Chamber
EXEMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MENDO FESTIVAL FT. BRAGG CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Faced with the impossibility of presenting concerts in the iconic large white tent on the bluff, the Mendocino Music Festival opted to use Ft. Bragg’s Cotton Auditorium for ten events in the abbreviated 35th season. San Francisco’s Alexander String Quartet played July 21 to a fully masked audience
Chamber
ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING AT PIANOSONOMA CONCERT IN SCHROEDER HALL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
After a dark year bereft of live performance, pianoSonoma launched July 20 the first Vino & Vibrato concert of the 2021 season in Sonoma State's Schroeder Hall, albeit sadly senza vino due to Covid protocols. Three exceptional musicians showered the audience with an interesting variety of pia
Chamber
RARELY-PLAYED SCHUMANN HIGHLIGHTS HEALDSBURG RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 10, 2021
Brave New Music sporadically produces concerts in and around Healdsburg, and July 10’s violin recital in downtown St. Paul’s Church must have been one of the first post-lockdown, post-be-extra-careful classical music concerts in Sonoma County's summer season. New Music Founder Gary McLaughlin with
Chamber
ECHOS ON A WARM SUMMER NIGHT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, July 10, 2021
ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s first concert in a year and a half, “A Musical Promenade,” was a promenade indeed. When patrons arrived at San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for the 6:00 performance July 10, they were funneled through the garden to the Duncan Hall patio, where folding chairs were set
Chamber
LONG DISTANCE LOVE BEGINS VOM SUMMER FESTIVAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Thursday, June 24, 2021
The Valley of the Moon Music Festival offered a 7th season preview June 24 with a stunning online concert, aptly named Long Distance Love, featuring inspired performances of Beethoven's short song cycle An die ferne Geliebte,, and selections from Brahms’ beloved Liebeslieder Wal
Recital
ROMERO'S ARTISTRY IN SLV RECITAL PROGRAMMING AND PERFORMANCE
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Gustavo Romero has been an admired visitor to North Bay stages, playing over a decade recitals at Dominican University, the Music at Oakmont concerts and at the Spring Lake Village Concert Series. He returned June 2 to SLV in a virtual recital, videoed from his home concert hall the University of N
RUBICON'S VIRTUAL CONCERT A MALANGE OF CONTRASTS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 16, 2021
The inaugural concert of a new Mendocino County chamber group is a reason for celebration, and the Rubicon Trio made the most of a mixed musical menu during a May16 virtual concert. Presented by the Ukiah Symphony Orchestra as the last in their “Salons with the Symphony” Series, the Rubicon began w
Recital
PIANO VIRTUOSITY IN YAKUSHEV'S REDWOOD ARTS RECITAL
by Nicki Bell
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev’s recital for the Redwood Arts Council was perhaps the local season’s virtual music at the greatest distance, as the filming May 16 came from a church in St. Petersburg. And good filming it was, with multiple camera viewpoints of the church, full and split screens and
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.