UKIAH SYMPHONY CLOSES SEASON WITH TWO BIG WORKS
by Ed Reinhart
Sunday, May 19, 2013
The Ukiah Symphony closed its 2012-13 season May 19th with a bold matinee presentation at the Mendocino College Theater. Featured were the Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat minor, Opus 23, and the third and fourth Movements of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Opus 125.
Pianist Lawrence Holmfjo...
A PERFECT 10 FOR THE TENTH
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, May 11, 2013
The Santa Rosa Symphony capped off its first year in the resplendent Green Music Center with an impassioned performance of Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony, widely regarded as his masterpiece in the genre. Every section of the orchestra, from the lowest bass to the most stratospheric piccolo, played to...
PRAYERS AND REDEMPTION FROM THE APSC
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, May 04, 2013
For its final set of the 2012-13 season on May 4 and 5, the American Philharmonic of Sonoma County offered a program titled "Prayer and Redemption." The first half consisted of the prayers, the second of the joy of redemption. Guest conductor Cyrus Ginwala spoke about the pieces beforehand and then ...
FULL CIRCLE FOR KAHANE
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Since the conclusion of his decade-long tenure with the Santa Rosa Symphony in 2006, conductor laureate Jeffrey Kahane has traveled widely, but he has often circled back to Sonoma County as a piano soloist. On Saturday evening, April 27, he upped the ante by not only bringing his prodigious keyboard...
MESMERIZING IRISH MEZZO TELLS STORIES IN WEILL SONG RECITAL
by Vaida Falconbridge
Sunday, April 21, 2013
There were stories of fiery gypsies, dances, kisses, deep angst, unrequited love, mermaids, and headstrong young maidens. Irish-born mezzo soprano Tara Erraught told her Weill Hall audience April 21 in her lilting Irish brogue, “People ask why I pick the programs the way I do. Well, being from Irel...
SONG CYCLES FOR CONNOISSEURS
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Elina Garanca’s April 9 Weill Hall recital was a connoisseur’s program, eschewing the more popular song literature and concentrating on mostly subtle and evocative works of Schumann, Berg and Richard Strauss.
With pianist Kevin Murphy, the Latvian mezzo soprano, famous from the opera stage as a sum...
VADIM REPIN: STARLIGHT, SHINING BRIGHT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, April 07, 2013
Born in Siberia in 1971, violinist Vadim Repin is as Russian as they come, but he played nary a note of Russian music in his April 7 recital at the Green Music Center's Weill Hall. The closest he got was the last movement of the Janacek violin sonata, which celebrates the triumphal entry of Russian...
TCHAIKOVSKY CONCERTO HIGHLIGHTS FT. BRAGG SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Ed Reinheart
Sunday, April 07, 2013
The Symphony of the Redwoods opened its spring concert April 6 in Ft. Bragg’s Cotton Auditorium with a memorable performance of Tchaikovsky’s B-Flat Minor Concerto.
Conductor Allan Pollack and the Symphony presented an ambitious program, opening with Rimsky-Korsakov's "Dance of the Buffoons" from t...
THE FAMILIAR, THE RARE AND THE NEW
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Sonoma State's resident Trio Navarro has a well-earned reputation for eclectic programming, and in their Easter Sunday concert in Weill Hall, they chose the familiar, the rare and the new.
The new was SSU faculty composer Brian Wilson's "And Ezra the Scribe Stood Upon a Pulpit," a trio for horn, vi...
Choral and Vocal
MASTERFUL GOOD FRIDAY CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 29, 2013
Good Friday concerts are always spiritual but often can be monotonous and overly long. Cantiamo and the St. Cecelia Choir’s exceptional program March 29 in Santa Rosa’s packed Church of the Incarnation was anything but mundane, and perhaps too short.
Conductor Carol Menke fashioned a balanced eve...
Harpsichordist Robin Sutherland
BACH AND PART PAIR PERFECTLY IN MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by John Metz
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
High Baroque composer J. S. Bach and minimalist Estonian composer Arvo Pärt aren’t such an unlikely pair, and the Marin Symphony played to this connection in their most recent program at the Marin Center.
The evening started with the first of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti. Like in the other Brandenburgs, the full orchestra performs in interplay with the featured concertino group. The concertante in the first Brandenburg consists of two horns, three oboes, a bassoon, and violin, though the horns are perhaps featured the most. And this is quite the showpiece for them. Horns in Bach’s time were valveless, which limited their range, especially in the lower register. Thus, these parts are written in a rather high tessitura. Playing in this range for the full duration of the concerto can be exhausting for players of the modern horn. And yes, this evening’s horn players certainly faced their challenges, but in the end gave a worthy performance – especially in the minuet finale, which also contained some lovely playing from the oboes and bassoons.
Juxtaposed between the first and third Brandenburg Concerti was Arvo Pärt’s famous Frates, arranged by the composer himself for solo violin, string orchestra, and percussion. Concertmaster Jeremy Constant was the evening’s soloist, and his solo introduction was raw, bold, and unhindered, even if not technically perfect. This lead to the main body of the work, which is more meditative, consisting of a singular sustained bass note, supporting the orchestra’s colorful chord sequences and the solo violin’s more freely written embellishments, often containing an abundance of harmonics. Between the various chord sequences, the high strings go silent, the percussion briefly plays, and the violinist strums a chord. This happens eight or nine times until the final chord sequence, which brings the work to a quiet and soothing close.
The third Brandenburg Concerto eschews the concertante group entirely, and instead features a small string chamber orchestra in which the violins, violas, and cellos are divided each into three parts. Thus each performer carries his or her own line. And with the addition of the continuo part, this amounts to ten separate melodic lines at once. This performance of this work was one of the highlights of the evening. The strings along with harpsichordist Robin Sutherland gave a splendid performance of this exciting piece. It was a great closing to the first half.
The concert’s second half began with the Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, again featuring Mr. Constant as well as flautists Monica Daniel-Barker and Katrina Walker. This work is in three movements, the first is marked by a memorable melody in the flutes, in addition to some impressive fingerwork for Constant on violin. The second movement contained some refined and expressive flute playing from Ms. Daniel-Barker and Ms. Walker. And of course the finale: a clever fugue whose style is somewhere between a fugue proper and a concerto grosso.
Pärt’s Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten is pure grief in the form of sound. It begins with a high, multilayered line that gradually descends to evoke weeping. As it progresses, the lines grow in intensity to evoke the fullness of Pärt’s anguish after Britten’s death. Throughout this intensification, the death bell tolls over and over again, never letting the listener move on, reminding us again and again of the void that will never again be filled. I enjoyed this performance but was confused by Alasdair Neale’s conducting, which lacked subtlety and seemed inappropriate to the music being performed.
The concert closed with Bach’s fifth Brandenburg Concerto, perhaps the most concerto-like (in the modern sense) of the entire set. Here the soloists were again Mr. Constant, Ms. Daniel-Barker on flute, and Mr. Sutherland. The first movement contains some virtuosic moments from all three soloists, the most striking of all being the extended keyboard cadenza, which bursts forth, seemingly out of nowhere, and derails the entire ensemble in the most exciting and heroic way. Mr. Sutherland, who had filled the supportive role of continuo for much of the evening, now proved himself a soloist of the highest caliber. The string orchestra drops out for the second movement as the three members of the concertante perform a trio sonata. The third movement starts with the concertante alone, slowly evolves to incorporate the strings, and finally erupts into some of the most brilliant counterpoint of all Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti.
It was an impressive ending to the Marin Symphony’s best concert so far this season.
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