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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,
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 REVIEW
Marin Symphony / Saturday, January 25, 2020
Alasdair Neale, conductor
Jeremy Constant, violin
Jenny Douglass, viola

J. Constant and J. Douglass with Conductor A. Neale Jan. 25 in Marin (Photo: Stuart Lirette)

MOZART MASTERWORK HIGHLIGHTS MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT

by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 25, 2020

Excitement was palpable in the Marin Civic Center Auditorium Jan. 25 as the Marin Symphony in splendid full force took the stage for a richly textured Masterworks II program. Prevented from giving its first Masterworks offering by the wildfire-caused blackouts last October, the orchestra returned with great energy.

Missy Mazzoli’s “These Worlds in Us,” written 2006, a shining nine-minute tone poem scored for full orchestra plus two melodicas (related to the harmonica and accordion), opened the program. Dedicated to her father, who served in (and survived) the Vietnam War, its title is taken from a James Tate poem about his father, a pilot who died in World War II. Given that sadness, the piece might have been unrelentingly somber, but instead is thrillingly alive. Its haunting main theme by the violins, in a pentatonic scale of falling thirds and fourths, is reiterated throughout the piece, interspersed with militaristic references from the snare drum and horns, and bell-like, meditative monotones from the vibraphone evoking the bells and chimes of the gamelan music of Southeast Asia.

Marin Symphony has frequently introduced less-known composers to its audiences. Overall, “These Worlds in Us” synthesizes Asia, Europe and America into a lush, impressionistic soundscape that is both fresh and easily absorbed. Ms. Mazzoli wields a palette of bright orchestral colors, with standard instruments augmented by the melodicas, and extensive use of the vibraphone. The response from the audience in the nearly full hall was warm.

After reducing the orchestra to chamber size, Alasdair Neale conducted Mozart’s E-flat Major Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364, for violin, viola and ensemble, with soloists Concertmaster Jeremy Constant and Principal Violist Jenny Douglass. Mozart’s love of opera and vocal duets is wholly evident here. The violin and viola mirror one another again and again. Mr. Constant and Ms. Douglass are superior musicians and longtime colleagues. Their instruments sang together gloriously, and although sometimes the viola’s quieter sound was covered by the orchestra, long duet cadenzas allowed them to be equally heard. After the effervescent first movement (Allegro maestoso), the sublime Andante held intimations of loss, and in one extended section, as the ensemble played a muted ostinato, the violin and viola engaged in an intimate conversation, poignant in every bar. The Presto third movement restored the mood to joyful. The two soloists’ lines chased after one another, echoing short and light phrases, and then playing in unison as the orchestra guided them to the finish line.

Bows were taken, flowers were presented, and the first half ended with a loud ovation for the sterling performances.

Before playing the final featured work, Mr. Neale spoke to the audience about the recent death of the orchestra’s angel, Gloria Miner. He explained that in a critical period Ms. Miner had made a financial gift “of such magnitude and enormity that it guaranteed our survival.” In her honor, the orchestra’s principal cellist Madeleine Tucker came onstage to play the exquisite “Meditation” from Massenet’s opera Thaïs. Ms. Tucker played with tender expressiveness, her cello’s melodic line soaring above harpist Dan Levitan’s shimmering arpeggios.

The program culminated with Brahms’ Symphony in F Major, Op. 90, completed in 1883. The symphony, his third of four, was a great success from the beginning, so much so that Brahms is said to have tired of hearing it praised as his masterwork. Mr. Neale and the orchestra gave a performance of a deep conviction, never faltering through its demanding quick changes of mood, tempi and dynamics. The first movement, Allegro con brio, began at full throttle, eventually softening into a flowing pastoral section. There were sections of restraint and several climaxes in this movement, which changed like the sea and the wind, all handled deftly by the orchestra.

The lilting Andante second movement evoked water, a cascading stream moving through a serene and shaded wood, while movement three (Poco allegretto) shifted moods from lush harmony into wistfulness, the various instruments seeming to ask the question “why?” (warum? in German), as if the composer was asking in the music why he should deserve a happy life. Here there was pain and self-introspection, but a chorale-like section provided the answer: there is no choice but to live as though one deserved a happy life. The fourth movement, Allegro - Un poco sostenuto, was played alternately as mysterious and anguished, the violins slashing in broken rhythms, then resolving again into introspection and a quiet and contemplative finish.

The audience waited until Mr. Neale lowered his baton before rising in a standing ovation and seemed not to want to end the evening, which prompted an encore: Dvořák’s explosive and exuberant Slavonic Dance No. 8, a rousing finish to an extraordinary evening of music.