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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

So Co Phil Feb. 2 in the Jackson Theater

FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 2, 2020

Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert.

In his eighth conducting season with the So Co Phil, Norman Gamboa fashioned a performance of Debussy “Images Pour Orchestre” with a lot of musicians on stage, and captured the quiet introduction of the opening “Gigues” with many graded crescendos and decrescendos, fine playing from the winds and penetrating brass from four horns and four trumpets. Bass clarinetist Cathy Brooks played elegantly.

Throughout the first half the conductor favored leisurely tempos in the Debussy and warm sound from the high strings. Exemplary solos were everywhere in this brilliantly scored work: harpist Christina Kopriva, Eric Anderson (horn) and clarinetist Matthew Bringedahl. Even the raucous snare drum sound added to the mix. This music, as in the afternoon’s concluding Ravel work, has many changing moods that add to difficulty for Mr. Gamboa in balancing sections. The fourth movement (Rondes de Printemps) was played with swirls of sound and the laconic English horn of Anthony Perry.

Berlioz’ famous Love Scene from the Roméo and Juliette Symphony (Op. 17), one movement in the whole of five, began the second half. Here there is no scored brass and subtlety of tempo changes are again critical to maintain. Attacks and cutoffs were clear and the So Co Phil violin section was at their best with more power than in the first two concerts of the season. At 19 minutes the performance did not seem long, and Mr. Gamboa’s shaping of phases in the richly saturated themes was convincing. There was a fetching duo with clarinet (Cathy Brooks) and flutist Emily Reynolds. The bantamweight ending was shimmering.

Ravel’s magical La Valse took only 15 minutes to finish the concert, but has a bevy of instrumental pitfalls that for any orchestra are difficult to avoid. Rhythms and tempos constantly change and false cadences abound, and harmonies shift from mundane Viennese Strauss to decadent post World War I. Mr. Gamboa often wanted a raw sound to contrast familiar waltz strains, and got it from the three bassoonists, glockenspiel, castanets, triangle and a loud bass drum. The continual repeating waltz motives featured knotty chromaticism, harp glissandos and murmuring figures in the cellos.

Mr. Gamboa pushed the tempo all the way to the end, distinct section music dissolving into a rubric of a propulsive, insistent and increasingly loud dance that wasn’t a waltz anymore. It was a unique and stunning performance of a Ravel masterpiece, and the audience of 200 loved it.

One more season concert remains, April 4 and 5 in the Jackson, with a big mountain for the Philharmonic to climb – a violin concerto premiere and Mahler’s momentous Fifth Symphony. However, in a surprise, they announced their first ever Pops concert, June 27, also in the spacious Jackson, which should be an odd juxtaposition with the great Mahler work of April.