Home  Reviews  Articles  Calendar  Presenters  Add Event     
Recital
DYNAMIC PIANISM IN YAKUSHEV MARIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev arrived Jan. 23 at his Mill Valley Chamber Music Society recital with the repute of playing loud and fast and delivering charming introductory musical remarks to his audience. He was true to form in Mill Valley’s Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church, preceding Haydn’s sple
Symphony
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 9, 2022
The Jan. 9 Santa Rosa Symphony concert was supposed to feature the world premiere of Gabriella Smith’s first symphony, but it ended up featuring another type of premiere: a concert that was conceived, rehearsed and performed in less than eight hours. Symphony staff learned on Sunday morning that so
Choral and Vocal
AN OLD FRIEND RETURNS TO WEILL IN STERLING ABS MESSIAH PERFORMANCE
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, December 19, 2021
A tremendous accomplishment by the American Bach Soloists Dec. 19 was near perfect performance of Handel's Messiah in Weill Hall. Long an annual tradition at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, the ABS took to the road and delivered a Christmas gift of epic proportions to an obviously thrilled and enth
Symphony
SHOSTAKOVICH FIFTH THUNDERS AT WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 5, 2021
In a new season marketed as “Classical Reunion,” the Santa Rosa Symphony made a palpable connection with its audience at the early December set of three standing ovation concerts in Weill Hall. The December 5 concert, with 1,000 attending, is reviewed here. Vaughan Williams’ popular Fantasia on a T
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,
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Sonoma State University Department of Music / Sunday, September 26, 2021
Alexander Kahn, conductor. Matthew Bowker, saxophone; Isabella Grimes, flute

Saxophonist Matthew Bowker

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 first have of two abbreviated concertos, and happily a non-shortened reading of Mozart’s 36th Symphony, the C Major “Linz,” K. 425.
In his remarks to the audience Mr. Kahn explained that the Mozart composed the 1783 work in four days, but that nary a note of the four-movement seems rushed or slapdash. Mozart slapdash? Well perhaps at times, but not here as it’s inventive and sure footed from first to last.

The conductor’s tempos were quite relaxed over the 26-minute performance, the scrappy ensemble of 23 responding well to the score’s demands for precise attacks and releases and attention to string intonation. Horn playing gave appropriate contrast to the strings and the tympanist Charles Gomez contributed a steady beat. Articulation in the courtly Menuetto was exemplary.

Mr. Kahn led an exuberant Presto finale, reminiscent of the first movement’s motives and prescient to the great C Major Symphony (“Jupiter”) that would come in four years, with another six repeated movement-ending chords.

Mozart began the concert with the opening movement of his G Major Flute Concerto, K. 313, with Isabella Grimes playing the virtuoso solo. She was best in the high register sections (as of course is the flute) with clear runs and accurate octave drops. I didn’t recognize the cadenza, not as long or complicated as is a cadenza played by Jean Pierre Rampal, and perhaps it is the composer’s own. In any case, she played it well and received loud applause from a contingent of students in the hall, and several bouquets including one from her teacher Kathleen Lane Reynolds.

The first half concluded with the second movement (Larghetto – Animato molto) of Ibert’s Saxophone Concertino, with Matthew Bowker the soloist. Playing from score Mr. Bowker’s opening was haunting, a rich languorous sound that carried throughout Weill that quickly was augmented by Cooper Ysais’s bassoon line. The violins were too muted here, and when the upbeat Animato came distinct notes were blurred in faster passages. Mr. Bowker nailed the movement’s contrasts, with a faint saxophone reminder of a Wagner’s use of the English Horn in Tristan und Isolde’s third act. The lyricism was underscored by the Orchestra’s sonorous bass and cello lines.

Mr. Kahn’s spirited ensembles three more performances this season - a concert featuring compositions by American Indian composers (Nov. 20); a family concert Feb. 26; and April 30 in Weill with “An Evening in Buenos Aires," music of Piazzolla, Golijov and Ginastera. Information is at http://music.sonoma.edu/ensembles/symphony-orchestra.