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Chamber
FROTHY CHAMBER WORKS CONCLUDE VALLEY OF THE MOON FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, August 02, 2015
A closing concert for a summer music festival, even a new series such as the Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VMMF), should be a capstone for the series. The recent Chamberfest Concerts at the Green Music Center, with all six Bach Brandenburgs as the finale, are an example. Artists at the Festiv...
Recital
MYER'S MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL SPOTLIGHTS MOZART TO BALCOM
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Completing the Mendocino Music Festival’s piano series July 22 was an energetic recital by returning Festival artist Spencer Myer. The nearly full Preston Hall audience was treated to a program, announced from the piano, that had broad musical appeal and panache. Exploring the Festival’s Mozart t...
Symphony
MOZART'S GENIUS UPSTAGES DIVA, YOUTH AND CONDUCTOR IN STERLING MMF CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Mendocino’s eclectic Music Festival gave a strong imprimatur to the Mozart theme July 22 with a radiant orchestral and vocal concert in the big white tent on the Mendocino headlands. The Overture from “The Abduction from the Seraglio” (K. 384) opened the concert in an adroit reading that was...
Chamber
CLARINET MUSIC LAUNCHES NEW FESTIVAL IN SONOMA VALLEY
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Among the several North Coast summer festivals in 2015 is a new one, the Valley of the Moon Music Festival, directed by San Francisco-area artists Tanya Tomkins and Eric Zivian. It’s unique in presenting seven concerts of the Classical and Romantic eras with instruments designed and mostly built wh...
Opera
OPERA BUFFA HI JINX IN ROSSINI'S BARBER AT MENDO FESTIVAL
by Ken Bullock
Friday, July 17, 2015
During his July 17 lecture before the sole Mendocino Music Festival performance of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, stage director Eugene Brancoveanu spoke of Commedia Dell’Arte. Mr. Brancoveanu, who sang the baritone title role of Figaro, alluded to the stylized clowning that is sometimes p...
Recital
ELEGANT SCRIABIN, CHOPIN AND GRANADOS IN MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 16, 2015
Taiwanese pianist Ching-Yun Hu made a formidable Mendocino Music Festival debut recital July 16 in Mendocino’s Preston Hall. A full house warmly greeted the diminutive artist, and she responded with a pensive and then dramatic performance of Scriabin’s Sonata Fantasy, Op. 19. Writers refer to thi...
Symphony
SPLASHY RUSSIAN MUSIC IN MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Summer music festivals season tend to be launched each season with a sparkling audience-pleasing program, and the 29th Mendocino Music Festival opening concert was no exception July 11 with an all-Russian program in the big white tent concert hall on Mendocino’s breezy bluff. Conducted by Artistic ...
Recital
FRENCH ROMANTIC ORGAN MUSIC IN NUMINA RECITAL
by James Harrod
Friday, July 10, 2015
Etienne Walhain played a magical recital July 10 of organ music of Bach, Scarlatti and Franck. Displaying total command of the Church of the Incarnation’s Casavant instrument under his hands and feet, Mr. Walhain performed his program from memory with breath taking speed, accuracy, and clean articul...
Symphony
BRANDENBURGS A SPIRITUAL GIFT IN FINAL CHAMBERFEST CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, June 28, 2015
“Well, you should have been there.” A trite saying used too often by concertgoers? Sure. But surely it was the appropriate adage for the final Chamberfest concert June 28 in Sonoma State’s Weill Hall. Capping a nine-event series mostly in Schroeder Hall, Jeffrey Kahane led ensembles of up to 20 ...
Recital
TWO EXEMPLARY ORGAN RECITALS HIGHLIGHT CHAMBERFEST
by James Harrod
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Baroque music aficionados and organists were glued to their seats at Chamberfest’s June 27 and 28 when Malcolm Matthews performed two amazingly perfect recitals of Baroque organ music from North Europe of the 16th and 17th centuries. The two prodigious concerts included no less than 17 selections,...
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.