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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,...
Chamber
INTREPID VIRTUOSITY IN PAREMSKI'S BRAHMS VARIATIONS
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 26, 2015
Sonoma County organist James Harrod contributed the organ work analysis in this review. Pianist Natasha Paremski had the stellar role June 26 in the third Chamberfest program in Schroeder Hall, beginning with Beethoven’s A Flat Sonata, Op. 110. Classical Sonoma was unable to review the Sonat...
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.