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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
Santa Rosa Symphony / Sunday, April 25, 2021
Francesco Lecce-Chong, conductor. Joseph Edelberg, violin

Violinist Joseph Edelberg

SONIC CONTRASTS HIGHLIGHT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SPRING PROGRAM

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 25, 2021

In a curious mixture of compositions, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s penultimate virtual concert of the season April 25 unfolded in ways both highly satisfying and a bit perplexing.

Directed by resident Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong, the event followed a familiar format – several contemporary works capped by a larger-scale familiar piece that seemed to sweep away the sonic memory of what came before. Presumably many program selections are dictated by the number of available musicians, the needs of the video recording, and COVID restrictions. Filming in Weill Hall was April 10.

Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte for String Orchestra opened, a 2011 composition that Mr. Lecce-Chong took at a brisk clip over 12 minutes. Adelle-Kiko Kearns’ sorrowful cello line frequently echoed the pizzicato strings and the effective just-off-pitch demands of the score. Violinist Jay Zhong’s high register slides and string squeaks sounded unique, as did Ms. Kearns’ coda, where she played short phrases of swells and pauses, followed by softly strumming her instrument with guitar-like notes fading to an eerie silence.

Appearing for his ninth Symphony formal concert solo, concertmaster Joseph Edelberg played Ellen Taafe Zwilich’s Romance for Violin and Piano, also written in 2011. The initial music featured bassoonist Carla Wilson but quickly moved to Mr. Edelberg’s elegant interpretation, played from score, and equally quickly moving ahead to faster virtuoso playing that reminded one of Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto.

There was piquant flute playing from Kathleen Reynolds, and Mr. Edelberg made the most of the music’s periods of repose, his vibrato widening to a subdued ending.

Prior to intermission, instrumental solos were on display in Arturo Márquez’s Danzón No. 4 for Chamber Orchestra (1996), one of nine the Mexican composer has written. Here again Ms. Wilson’s bassoon started things off, paired with wood blocks from the percussion section. Then came thematic handoffs to oboe (Laura Reynolds), flute, horn (Meredith Brown), soprano sax and regular clarinet (Mark Wardlaw and Roy Zajac), muted trumpet (Scott Macomber), trombone (Kurt Patzner) and finally the not quite tango playing of pianist Kymry Esainko. The conductor meticulously shepherded the infectious rhythms and solo entries over 11 minutes that seemed short and were a concert highlight.

Tchaikovsky’s splendid C Major Serenade (Op. 48) concluded the concert, the attacks and releases mostly accurate and the 32 musicians seemingly enjoying the production of waves of rich late 19th Century sound. Low-end string sonority is critical to this Serenade, as is patrician phrasing and precise articulation. Mr. Lecce-Chong generally avoids extremes of tempo and especially rubato. This avoidance was most apparent in the super-romantic Élégie movement, where additional phrase ritards would have been welcome. More schmaltz? Hardly, but similar to the great horn solo in the composer’s E Minor Symphony, the big violin theme in the Élégie asks for subtle expansion of the lush melodic line, and here the conductor chose moderation.

That said, the six cellos and four basses supported glorious string playing in the charming Waltz movement, with some instruments muted. Mr. Lecce-Chong was in no hurry to get anywhere in the final Andante-Allegro. He deftly controlled instrumental sections and the musical excitement mounted, finishing with a triumphal string octave jump and a resounding short coda and long fermata.

Video production at this virtual concert was first cabin with ample close-ups of the musicians and excellent sound.