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Symphony
HEALDSBURG PHILHARMONIA PLAYS THE RAVEN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Les Pfutzenreuter is a conductor that gets around, moving from his Ukiah base at Mendocino College and the Ukiah Symphony to festival and concert appearances with many orchestras. February 22 found him with the Healdsburg Philharmonia in that City’s Raven Theater with works of Copland and Tcha...
Symphony
CHAMPAGNE ORGY OF SWISS ORCHESTRA'S SOUND IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Orchestras on tour usually perform hefty display works to showoff their virtuosity and power. And so it was with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (OSR) Feb. 14 in Weill Hall. Big works, weighty display. And in a surprise the compositions by Stravinsky and Ravel in the second half did the rare th...
Symphony
LENGTH? HEAVENLY LENGTH AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 14, 2015
A Bruckner Symphony performance can be a demanding task for both the orchestra and audience, as each of the nine are long and musically wandering. But not that wander are lost, as the Sonoma County Philharmonic proved in their Feb. 15 concert in the Santa Rosa High School Performing Arts Center. L...
Symphony
BOLD OPERATIC AND SYMPHONIC CONTRASTS IN SF SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Nicki Bell
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Pianist Peter Serkin and San Francisco Symphony Laureate conductor Herbert Blomstedt pulled musical extremes together on Feb. 12 in Weill Hall Symphony concert where artistic experience was a defining factor. From the warmth and humor of Mozart’s F Major Piano Concerto, K. 459, to the turmoil, drama...
Symphony
A BANDONEONIST WALKS INTO A BAR ...
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 08, 2015
Seeing a bandoneón player in front of a symphony orchestra reminds one of the old joke about a kangaroo walking into a high-priced bar. The bartender says, "We don't get many kangaroos in here," to which the kangaroo replies, "With these prices, I can see why." Likewise, if a bandoneónist were to wa...
Chamber
INTENSE STRING PLAYING IN HEALDSBURG'S ALL-POLISH COMPOSER PROGRAM
by Nicki Bell
Wednesday, February 04, 2015
A surprise program change greeted a full house in Healdsburg’s SHED Grange Room Feb. 4 when the Szymanowski Quartet from Warsaw played an all-Polish composer concert. Judging by audience comments at intermission the displacement of an arrangement of a Mussorgsky work by Penderecki’s Third Quartet w...
Chamber
KNOTTY CELLO MUSIC THAT WAS (MOSTLY) EASY TO LOVE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 01, 2015
Notable cello concerts have recently graced Sonoma County with Edward Arron’s Oakmont recital and Yo Yo Ma’s sterling solo outing in Weill. So it was not surprising that Sæunn Thorsteindóttir walked onto the Schroeder Hall stage Feb. 1 with pianist Elizabeth Roe and found a packed house of non-Supe...
Symphony
ZOOLOGICAL THEME RESOUNDS IN SPLENDID VSO HOGAN CONCERT
by Elizabeth Warnimont
Sunday, January 25, 2015
A pair of virtuosic young pianists wowed the crowd Jan. 25 at the Vallejo Symphony Orchestra concert in Vallejo’s Hogan Auditorium, and part of the proceeds from the mostly animal-themed music benefited the Humane Society of the North Bay. Symphony conductor David Ramadanoff warmed up the afternoon...
Chamber
SNAZZY CLARINET-PIANO WORKS IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 25, 2015
Often international-level instrumental duos are pickup couplings, one virtuoso’s schedule meeting another’s with the resulting desultory concerts. An exception would be the violinist Anne Sophie Mutter with her long-time partner Lambert Orkis, and the Nakamatsu-Manesse Duo. The latter played a pro...
Recital
MESMERIZING BACH AND CASALS IN MA'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Cellist Yo Yo Ma’s warm friendship with North Coast audiences entered a new chapter Jan. 24 in a standing-room only and stage seats Weill Hall recital. Playing three Bach Suites for solo cello, Mr. Ma could have echoed the young Liszt’s famous comment, “the concert is me.” But the concert was real...
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.