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Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Recital
NOVACEK'S 2ND HALF TRIFECTA SCORES AT MENDO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Modern classical piano recitals are in two parts, with longer and perhaps more profound music proceeding perhaps shorter and usually stimulating lighter fare. In John Novacek’s July 13 Mendocino Music Festival recital the best playing came unexpectedly in the eight abbreviated works comprising the ...
Recital
STYLUS AND PLAYING FANTASTICUS IN YOUNG'S ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Organist Robert Young gave a wonderful tour through the stylus fantasticus (fantastic style) organ literature June 25 playing a recital on the Casavant organ at Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Young recently became the organist at the Church and previously served for 20 years as Music D...
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.