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Chamber
UBER VIOLISTS AT MUSIC IN THE VINEYARDS
by Steve Osborn
Friday, August 08, 2014
Full disclosure. I'm an amateur--very amateur--violist, so Friday's Music in the Vineyards concert in Napa Valley was of particular interest to me. The program featured two sextets with prominent viola parts; a trio for viola, flute and piano; and the pièce de résistance: a quartet for four violas. ...
Chamber
PIANO SONOMA JAMS IN FINAL WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, August 03, 2014
PianoSonoma concluded its artist-in-residence performances August 3 in a sparkling Weill Hall concert where mostly new music overshadowed conventional fare. Mendelssohn’s popular D Minor Trio began the program in a workmanlike performance that never quite caught fire. Tempos throughout were judici...
Symphony
A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, August 02, 2014
The audience filing into Saturday's National Youth Orchestra concert at Weill Hall in Rohnert Park was greeted by the sight and sound of 120 teenaged musicians furiously warming up and clad in a patriotic outfit of red pants and sneakers, white shirts and … black blazers, ties and scarves? So much f...
Opera
A PROVOCATIVE DON GIOVANNI AT MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 18, 2014
At each Mendocino Music Festival a key evening is given over to a staged opera in the big tent, and last year Rossini’s frothy “Il Signor Bruschino” was an audience hit but hardly comprehensive operatic fare. Times change. Mozart’s weighty opera Don Giovanni was given a propulsive but often confus...
Recital
UNHURRIED COMMAND IN MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Pianist Robert Schwartz opened Mendocino Music Festival’s piano series July 17 with a set of works in a recital made for keyboard connoisseurs. His success was doubly gratifying for the artist as he had played on the same stage at last year’s Festival, but had to cancel most of the recital due to il...
Symphony
A MUSIC OFFERING IN A SONIC MIXTURE
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Bach’s iconic D Minor Clavier Concerto was the centerpiece in the fourth day of Mendocino Music Festival events July 16 in the big tent concert hall, with San Francisco-based Stephen Prutsman the featured artist. Conducting a chamber orchestra of ten from a lidless piano, Mr. Prutsman took fast te...
Choral and Vocal
A CAPAPELLA FEVER AHH
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Choral singing, especially unaccompanied by piano or orchestra, seldom gets exposure at a summer music festival. So it was a surprise July 16 to find the Mendocino Music Festival featuring a full program of a capella singing in downtown Mendocino’s Preston Hall. Perhaps due to the local performers...
Symphony
DRAMATIC SUMMER MUSICAL FARE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Monday, July 14, 2014
Napa’s Festival Del Sole’s summer resident orchestra, Sphinx, made a dramatic Weill Hall appearance July 15 with three star performers and a curious mix of pungent repertoire. Violinist Pinchas Zuckerman received the biggest adulation from the audience, closing the first half playing Bruch’s G Mino...
Chamber
SUMMER SCHUBERT SUNSHINE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 27, 2014
Though not as well known as the formidable Trio Navarro, the Amaryllis Trio has had an increasing chamber music presence since 2012 with manifold Sonoma and Marin County concerts. Sebastopol’s St. Stephen's Church and the Numina Center for the Arts hosted them June 27 in a sparkling concert of four ...
Chamber
A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME BRASS CONCERT
by Philip Beard
Thursday, June 12, 2014
"I think I just died and went to heaven" is a stock phrase for times of unusual bliss. On June 12 at SSU's Green Music Center, I didn't in fact die, but the 2½ hours spent listening to the National Brass Ensemble came as close to a brass player's heaven as I can imagine. The hall was all but sold o...
SYMPHONY REVIEW

Pianist Keisuke Nakagoshi

MARIN SYMPHONY LAUNCHES SEASON WITH GERSHWIN PROGRAM

by Donna Kline
Sunday, October 04, 2009

The alluring and always enduring music of the American composer George Gershwin thrilled a capacity audience at the Marin Symphony season’s opening concert Oct. 4. While the composer is widely known for many popular tunes in his time, his musical genius is also sharply obvious in his orchestral works and more serious musical forms. Four of these works were heard in the Marin Center, captivating the audience.

The Cuban Overture, composed in 1931, was an inspiration from a brief visit to Havana where Gershwin endeavored to capture the rhythms of the Cuban Rumba. It is a relatively short work where the composer combined the Cuban rhythms with his own thematic material. Conductor Alasdair Neale led this rhythmic symphonic overture with great aplomb, a perfect opening to set the mood for an evening that was to be as distinctive as Gershwin’s unique talents. Special praise should also go to the principal clarinet and oboe performers as well as the outstanding percussion section.

The orchestra’s performance of Catfish Row Suite, an outgrowth of Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess” (his last major work), was also a tour de force reading. Mr. Neale was in full command and control, consummate with section balancing. This suite is a carefully constructed musical précis of the opera score, as Gershwin took five sections from the opera and bridged them skillfully into a beautiful symphonic suite. All the familiar songs from the opera were performed, either by the orchestra or performed as solos. Concertmaster Jeremy Constant’s rendition of Summertime, banjo player Glen Deardorff’s interpretation of I Got Plenty of Nuttin’, and pianist Heather Creighton’s solo parts were piquant and telling..

Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue was the composer’s first attempt to write classical music in a popular style. And since the initial performance in 1924, Rhapsody in Blue has remained his most loved and frequently heard work in the literature for piano and orchestra. The pianist in this performance, Keisuke Nakagoshi, made his Marin Symphony debut and nimbly performed the piece with adroit musicality. From the opening clarinet glissando to the beautiful jazz and blues melodies, Mr. Nakagoshi blended into the orchestral fabric and displayed a consummate octave technique. A standing ovation was the reward for a stunning performance.

Completed in 1928, an American in Paris is the only known orchestral work from Gershwin with a detailed program. Inspired by a visit to Europe, Gershwin probably composed this work to describe an American tourist walking along a Parisian boulevard. The Rue de Harp? The Champs de Elyse? Near the Ile de Cite? From the angry noise of Paris taxi horns in the percussion section to the blues-like melody that follows, the orchestra kept the audience’s rapt attention. Under Mr. Neale’s leadership the orchestra captured the essence of post-war Paris in sound, sometimes perplexing and always exciting.

It was an auspicious open to the new season Last night’s opening concert was an inspiring and provocative beginning to the new concert season.