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DINOVA PIANISM CHARMS SATED AUDIENCE AT J-B MARIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 20, 2022
Symphony
SHOSTAKOVICH 5TH A TRIUMPH FOR SSU ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 19, 2022
Recital
ASSERTIVE PIANISM IN YAKUSHEV'S OCCIDENTAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 13, 2022
Symphony
SPARKLING PONCHIELLI AND IMPOSING SCHUMAN AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 12, 2022
Chamber
CONTRASTS GALORE AT THE VIANO'S CONCERT AT THE 222
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 11, 2022
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY STOMPS ALONG TO MARSALIS VIOLIN CONCERTO
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 6, 2022
Choral and Vocal
TRAVELS WITH SEBASTIAN IN SONOMA BACH'S OPENER IN SCHROEDER
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, October 29, 2022
Symphony
ORCHESTRAL SPLENDOR IN MARIN SYMPHONY'S SEASON OPENER
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, October 15, 2022
Choral and Vocal
CANTIAMO BLOOMS AT CHURCH OF THE ROSES
by Pamela Hicks Galley
Sunday, October 9, 2022
Chamber
DRAMATIC SHOSTAKOVICH SONATA HIGHLIGHTS BOSCO-GABRIELSON CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 9, 2022
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Sonoma County Philharmonic / Saturday, October 1, 2022
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Dave Lindgren, flügelhorn

Conductor Norman Gamboa

SONIC EXCITEMENT AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 1, 2022

On paper the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Oct. 1 concert didn’t seem too attractive – an all-American composer program, maybe the usual Copland, maybe an Adams overture, some Gershwin and an obligatory short contemporary work that faded from memory by the concert’s end.

Conductor Norman Gamboa surprised many in a season-opening Jackson Theater audience with a delicious trio of performances, lively and fetching throughout, and following Mr. Gamboa’s educational pre-concert talk it was indeed Gershwin’s American in Paris Suite. Over a quick 18 minutes all the sounds of Parisian streets could be heard, with solos from Trumpeter Eric Schlaeppi, guest virtuoso Eric Kritz (contrabass clarinet), Pam Otsuka (violin) and the horn and percussion sections.

It was a nonstop lively plunging ahead of sound from the iconic 1928 work, the conductor seemingly reveling in juxtaposing instrumental sections and the continual sonic contrasts. It was a boisterous performance from the first notes and delighted the audience of 120.

A rarity closed the first half, Daron Hagen’s Concerto for Flugelhorn and Wind Ensemble. Occasionally a piece played by a trumpet, the evening’s soloist was flugelhornist Dave Lindgren, often a Philharmonic section performer. Playing from score, Mr. Lindgren produced with the string-less ensemble a mélange of often jerky sound, the brass answering his short stabs at melodic statements. Much of the music is laconic, and the soloist’s playing reminiscent of jazz trumpeter Miles Davis in the high register and short ritards. The marimba playing alternated dissonant four-note chords that supported sounds of the piccolo (Emily Reynolds) and muted trumpets. Somehow a string bass line, played by Tami Pallingston, came into the mix, supplying a jazz foundation.

In three parts, the Concerto wandered through jazz, laconic and swing sections, always captivating to this reviewer but presumably tough rhythmically for the ensemble. There was a lovely flute-bassoon duet.

Following the customary intermission six bottle wine raffle and announcements, William Grant Still’s Symphony No. 1 (“Afro American”) completed the program. Here Mr. Gamboa’s control of orchestral color was on display in a work from 1931 that demands flexibility of phrasing over its 29 minutes. In some ways the sonic excitement was a carryover from the first half, with the wind instruments, especially oboe and clarinet, stating the intriguing themes, and the charm of Christina Goodwin’s harp part. The conductor shaped the jazz and blues harmonic phrases deftly, and the music at times resembled a large marching band. And at times there were echoes of the compositions of Gershwin (“I Got Rhythm” 1930) and Dvorak. Good company for Still.

Splendid dance sections ended the Symphony, played with panache and sonic power. It was an auspicious beginning to the 65-member Orchestra’s 21st season. They perform again in the Jackson Nov. 12 and 13, playing Ponchielli, Beethoven (C Minor Piano Concerto) and Schumann’s Second Symphony.