Home  Reviews  Articles  Calendar  Presenters  Add Event     
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
Apollo's Fire / Saturday, October 30, 2021
Jeanette Sorrell, director and harpsichord; Francisco Fullana, violin. Cleveland Baroque Orchestra

Apollo's Fire Oct. 30 with Visual

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, including this reviewer.

The Baroque ensemble Apollo’s Fire took the same stage Oct. 30 in essentially an all Vivaldi program, with a unique backdrop of colorful videos that were not disconcerting but mostly innocuous. Why, because the musical presentation was such an engrossing success before 650 that surely came to hear one of a handful of classical music’s most performed works – the Four Seasons. La Quattro Stagioni wore its age supremely well.

Apollo’s Fire is headed by conductor, arranger and harpsichordist Jeanette Sorrell, and at this event was spread out on the stage – 3 violas, 7 violins, 1 bass viol, 3 cellos, guitar and theorbo, harp, and the brilliant solo violin of Francisco Fullana. Cleveland based, the ensemble is celebrating 30 years of playing the Four Seasons, and clearly they could play it in their sleep. It’s a comfy old shoe to them, and also to most of the audience that gave standing ovations following each of the four concertos, each with three movements – fast, slow, fast.

The music, composed in 1720, is mostly fast, and if Fauré is known as old arpeggio, the Venice composer is surely old tremolo. The familiar themes and musical descriptions of Italian countryside developed smoothly with excellent ensemble. Attacks and releases were crisp, string pitch for Mr. Fullana and additional soloists Alan Choo and Emi Tanabe were deftly altered to increase sonic interest, and cellist René Schiffer added visual comic movements that accompanied his forceful instrumental artistry.

Introductory comments to the audience by Ms. Sorrell were never cute, giving a tasteful and picturesque description of each Season to come, and her conducting and mostly inaudible harpsichord playing gave control to the many short solo duos and trio groupings. Frequently Mr. Fullana and Mr. Schiffer were joined by the piquant baroque guitar and theorbo playing of William Simms, perfectly amplified. The three violin soloists, and for that matter the entire high string sections, moved acrobatically to the resounding music, giving phrases a little extra excitement. Mr. Fullana played without score.

This music can seem continually aggressive, as the composer between the potent bookend movements created mostly short slow movements (two Largos, two Adagios) as bucolic lyrical interludes. Apollo’s Fire’s performances elegantly called to mind in each Concerto the visual depiction of nature – storms, a festival, sleep, languorous heat – with just passing reference to the scenes on the large screen. Perhaps the highlight was Autumn (L’Autunno) with the emphasis on novel harmonies and the march-like Tremolos in the last MAllegro.

The concert opened with Marco Uccellini’s La Bergamasca, a work roughly contemporary with Vivaldi, that passed without much notice. That was not the case with Vivaldi’s G Minor Concerto for Two Cellos (RV 541), wonderfully played by Mr. Schiffer and Sarah Stone. The work ended the first half, and Mr. Schiffer’s Cadenza in the opening Allegro had delicious references to Bach’s G Major Suite and, yes, themes from the Four Seasons. The two cellos were both in unison and at times far apart.

How to end such a feast of Vivaldi? With the singular La Folia (Madness), in Ms. Sorrell’s arrangement that featured Mr. Choo and Ms. Tanabe alternating musical phrases and stage antics, aided by an appearance across the stage by Mr. Simms and his insouciant guitar. It was intense music making, accelerating to the end, and generated a loud ovation.

An encore was demanded, and the conductor grabbed a tambourine to accompany Ms. Tanabe and the ensemble (including Mr. Fullana) in a dazzling tour de force set of variations of unknown identity, with strains of “Fiddler on the Roof” and Gypsy rhythms reflecting clapping and foot stomping from the audience. Of course it brought down the house.