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Choral and Vocal
A DEFINITIVE ST. MATTHEW AT ABS BELVEDERE CONCERT
by Joanna Bramel Young
Friday, February 27, 2015
The American Bach Soloists performed Bach’s timeless St. Matthew Passion Feb. 27 to a sold-out audience at St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere. In the account of Christ’s last hours as set forth by evangelist Matthew, the Passion stands supreme, beside the Mass in B Minor, as Bach’s finest creation. ...
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 all that wander are lost, as the Sonoma County Philharmonic proved in their Feb. 15 concert in the Santa Rosa High School Performing Arts Center...
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...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
American Philharmonic Sonoma County / Sunday, October 09, 2011
Tristan Arnold, conductor. Kenneth Renshaw, violin

Violinist Kenneth Renshaw

BERLIOZ'S SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE HIGHLIGHTS SPOOKY APSC CONCERT AT WELLS FARGO CENTER

by Nicki Bell
Sunday, October 09, 2011

The American Philharmonic Sonoma County is off to a rousing start of their new season, and the Oct. 9 at the Wells Center concert was a crowd pleaser. The afternoon’s theme was “Dark Shadows of Twilight.”

The orchestra played with clarity, passion and precision and the hall was more than two thirds full. Under the baton of guest conductor Tristan Arnold, a finalist in the APSC’s search for their next musical director, the orchestra sounded tight and focused, spanning a wide range of dynamics and textural color. Mr. Arnold, a former member of the APSC as principal bassist, provided clear and expressive leadership and was an engaging speaker in remarks to the audience.

As a Prelude to Halloween, the afternoon’s music was alternatively spooky and programmatic, with a little gypsy added to the mix. Mussorgsky’s “A Night on Bare Mountain” opened, a swirling darkness musically circling, whipping an army of spirits. With rich orchestration, the power of trumpets, French horns and trombones sounded against the fury of violins. Church bells (from timpanist Anthony Blake) heralded a lyrical section of peace with a beautiful clarinet solo floating above the string choir. This sonic fabric was echoed by first flutist Debra Ortega, with the harp climbing to the peace of the heavens leaving the audience with celestial vistas.

The next work, “Funeral March for a Marionette” by Gounod, brought Alfred Hitchcock’s memory back to Sonoma County. Clarinetist Steve Bergman’s solo lead in initiating the familiar steps of the March. The sections of the orchestra played off against each other, crisp, clear and colorful.

“Tzigane, Rhapsodie de Concert” of Ravel was a treat. Young Artist Award winner Kenneth Renshaw gave a passionate, rhapsodic and thoroughly virtuosic performance as violin soloist. A long cadenza opens the piece, the orchestra then emerging evoking exotic sounds, sometimes supporting, sometimes making fun of the violin. Cellos, violins, winds, harp, and bells each took a turn dancing and splashing colors over an excited audience. A standing ovation ended the first half.

After intermission Berlioz’s iconic Symphonie Fantastique built on the orchestral energy of the first half. As an episode in the life of an artist, it was inspired by a production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and the symphony from 1830 tells a story. There are five movements (Passions, A Ball, Scenes in the Field, March to the Scaffold and Dreams of a Witches’ Sabbath). The whole performance was a sweeping adventure with telling solos from Marie Vizcaino (English horn), John Lounsbery (French horn), Tuba (Floyd Reinhart), flute, clarinet, trumpets and harp. The musical sections flowed seamlessly one into the other with lovely duets between English horn and oboes, violas and violins.

The theme from the first movement (Reverie) winds through the following four, a dark refrain carried with suspense throughout all the orchestra, a pulsing march to the end.

The “Dark Shadows of Twilight” seemed to bring a lot of sunshine to the faces of both audience and orchestra alike, and a fitting beginning to a season that features a guest conductor at each of the five concerts.