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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...
Opera
HILARIOUS "MARRIAGE OF FIGARO" AT CINNABAR
by Nicki Bell
Friday, May 30, 2014
The Cinnabar Theater mounted a delightful, madcap, rambunctious, completely charming, extremely funny, very classy production of Mozartʼs opera "The Marriage of Figaro" from May 30 to June 15. With the feel of a 1920s Upstairs/Downstairs farce, it was sung in English and easily understood. Tho...
Symphony
BENEFIT FOR CHILDREN, BOON FOR MUSIC LOVERS
by Steve Osborn
Thursday, May 22, 2014
For its postseason concert on May 22, the Santa Rosa Symphony--together with piano soloist Jeffrey Kahane and conductor Bruno Ferrandis--played for free. The money they would otherwise have earned will be used to benefit more than 20,000 children served by the Symphony's extensive outreach efforts, ...
Symphony
POWERFUL SHOSTAKOVICH WORKS CLOSE USO'S SEASON
by Earl Dixon
Sunday, May 18, 2014
The Ukiah Symphony Orchestra concluded its current season on the May 17 weekend with a focus on Shostakovich. The featured works in Mendocino College’s Center Theater were the second Piano Concerto in F major, Op. 102 and Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47. Pianist Aaron Ames played the concerto an...
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.