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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
CHAMBER REVIEW

Laura Magnani at ECHO Concert (A. Wasserman Photo)

PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT

by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020

As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals.

It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and performed by ECHO percussionists Christian Foster Howes and Alapaki Yee. Mr. Yee explained from the stage that "Kaizen" is a Japanese term “about the small, consistent changes we go through in our lives.” From its opening strikes and rolls, the piece immersed the audience in insistent pulse, pitch changes, shifting tempos, and surprising tonalities. It was a reminder of how musical drumming can be. The musicians formed intricate patterns with buttery taps, sharp strikes, thunder-like rolls and rumbles, and tuneful variations in pitch. It was mesmerizing. At the conclusion there was a split second of silence, then the audience showered the composers with applause and the kind of whistles one hears at a sports game.

The next surprise was to see the piano positioned on the platform at the rear of the stage for Laura Magnani’s performance of Mozart’s D Minor Concerto, No. 20, K. 466. Mozart wrote some of his most heartrending music in D minor, including the Requiem and parts of the opera Don Giovanni. Before taking her seat at the piano, Ms. Magnani described the avant-garde character of the concerto and said that Beethoven, who greatly admired this work, wrote the cadenzas she would perform.

The first Allegro movement began with an ominous orchestral introduction with cries of suffering from the violins. When the piano part entered, its tones rising bell-like above the orchestra, the mood softened, and a seesaw of darkness and light continued throughout the movement. The tension never fully lifted: even in the lovely Romanze second movement, sudden storms arose. The tumultuous third movement, Rondo: Allegro assai, built to a climax, the orchestra providing momentum and pulse, the piano its translucent partner. After thrilling pianistic runs and intricate trills, Ms. Magnani ended the concerto at a gallop. Her playing was lithe and muscular, faithful to the score and spirit, and deeply expressive. The solo cadenzas made a palpable connection between Mozart and Beethoven.

A sustained standing ovation elicited an encore: Chopin’s Fantaisie Impromptu, Op. 66, which Ms. Magnani performed dazzlingly.

In the interval before the final work, Louise Farrenc’s G Minor Symphony No. 3, Opus 36, flutist and Orchestra Manager Carol Adee noted how little about Farrenc appeared in even recent music dictionaries, and how important ECHO considers her music. Last year Mr. Canosa conducted her delightful Nonet. Farrenc (1804-1875) was a virtuoso pianist and prolific composer as well as a faculty member at the Paris Conservatory for 30 years. The first movement, Adagio-Allegro, began with a single eloquent voice from oboist Margot Golding, leading into a pastoral section rich with harmonies of woodwinds and French horns. The symphony calls for a full orchestra, but size was rarely an issue in this ensemble, except during certain beautiful passages where the three cellos could have benefited from additional players for volume.

The horns introduced the Adagio Cantabile, out of which Kyle Beard's clarinet sang an exquisite theme. The unison strings built intensity while overall, the movement remained pastoral. Movement three was played as agitated and alive, with close harmonies of horn, flute, clarinet, oboe and bassoon, while the strings played pizzicato. The concluding Finale-Allegro was thrilling, with the conductor shaping the music to a lyrical mood before its close.

A reception allowed attendees to enjoy refreshments, see local art and mingle with the musicians.