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EXOTIC RUSSIAN MUSIC FEATURED IN MV PHIL CONCERT
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SYMPHONY REVIEW
Sonoma County Philharmonic / Sunday, April 3, 2022
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Anthony Perry, English horn

So Co Philharmonic April 3

LUSH ORCHESTRA PLAYING IN SO CO PHIL-LLOYD MEMORIAL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 3, 2022

Continuing into the post COVID era the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a set of sensual concerts April 2 and 3 in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater, rich in instrumental splendor. The Sunday afternoon concert, attended by 250 (all masked), is reviewed here.

Anthony Perry’s laconic English horn solos floated through the concert’s opening Sibelius The Swan of Tuonela, a tone poem from the composer’s 1895 Lemminkäinen Suite. In just over nine minutes rich sound from the six cellos, a soprano saxophone and Mr. Perry’s instrument cast a soporific dark cloud into the hall. It was a subdued and cogent reading.

Closing the first half was Hovhaness’ once popular Symphony No. 2 (Mysterious Mountain), Op. 132, a short but magical work in three movements that featured enchanting ensemble with contra bassoon, trumpet, electric piano, English horn, harp and oboe. In the second movement the infamous double fugue was well played, conductor Norman Gamboa getting section clarity where in this work from 1955 it is often absent. It was full throated sonority, five horns and two trumpets, that led potently to a loud climax.

Horns started the Andante Espressivo finale, with the trombone section in the mix, and there was attractive flute playing from Emily Reynolds and Debra Scheuerman, and continually elegant oboe playing from Margaret Herlehy. The 13-minute performance finished with a captivating shimmer of sound.

Following the So Co Phil’s customary intermission wine raffle and announcements, eight movements from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Suite, Op. 20a, were heard. This work is always a crowd pleaser with ample chance for virtuoso solos. Chirpy flute playing characterized the Valse with tubist Floyd Reinhart distinctly heard, and there was splendid harp playing (Christina Goodwin) in the second Scčne, along with stellar oboe and bassoon (Miranda Kincaid) parts and a series of ascending multi-note solos from violinist Pam Otsuka. Throughout the conductor was able to get the orchestra to play really softly, though the Danse Hongroise Czardas (section 5) was resonantly played and suitably fast and rhythmically secure.

Trumpeter Tom Hyde played a long solo in the Spanish-tinged Danse Espagnole, a prelude to the brassy tympany fireworks finale of the Mazurka. It was 45 minutes of effective music making, the strings sections (6 first and 6 second violins, 3 violas and 3 bass viols) projecting Tchaikovsky’s memorable themes efficiently.

The concert was dedicated the late Philharmonic cellist Brian Lloyd (see separate article) and six of his cello colleagues played an arrangement of Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, K. 618, in his memory. In a short 46 measures the simple warm tribute was palpable.

Ron Teplitz contributed to this review.