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Chamber
PERFORMER AS PROMOTER: CLARA SCHUMANN AND MUSICAL SALONS CLOSE VOM FESTIVAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 28, 2019
The July 28 closing performance of the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival could have been subtitled "Friends", as it was devoted to works by both Clara and Robert Schumann, and those of their friends and protégés Brahms and virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim, with whom Clara toured extensively...
Chamber
ROMANTIC CHAMBER WORKS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 27, 2019
Now in its 5th season the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented July 27 a concert titled “My Brilliant Sister,” featuring Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s compositions for combinations of voice, fortepiano and strings. Fanny and her brother Felix were close, and Felix occasionally published ...
Symphony
ROMANTIC DREAMS AT THE MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kayleen Asbo
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Romanticism, contrary to many popular perceptions, wasn’t simply about diving into the habitat of the heart. Romanticism began as a literary movement that elevated the power of nature as a transcendent force and sought with keen nostalgia to rediscover the wisdom of the past. The Romantics in both l...
Chamber
CHAUSSON CONCERTO SHINES IN A VISIONARY'S SALON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Ernest Chausson’s four-movement Concerto in D Major for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet (1891) is neither concerto nor sonata nor symphony, but it somehow manages to be all three, especially when played with fire and conviction by an accomplished soloist. Those incendiary and emotional elements w...
Chamber
EUROPEAN SALON MUSIC CAPTIVATES AT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Two stunning programs of 19th and 20th century chamber music were presented on July 21 and 28 as part of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival at the Hanna Center in Sonoma. Festival founders and directors pianist Eric Zivian and cellist Tanya Tompkins were both on hand to contribute brilliantly at ...
Chamber
ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL COMBINATIONS IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 20, 2019
A Lovely summer afternoon in Sonoma Valley, an excellent small concert hall, enthusiastic audience, exciting musicians and creative programming with interesting story lines. All these were combined July 20 at a Valley of the Moon Festival concert titled “An Italian in Paris.” This is the fifth seaso...
Opera
'ELIXIR' A WELCOME TONIC IN SPRIGHTLY ANNUAL MMF OPERA
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 19, 2019
In most of the Mendocino Music Festival’s 33 seasons a single evening is given over to a staged opera, with bare bones sets, lighting, costumes, minimal cast and short length. No Wagner or Verdi here, no multiple acts and complicated production demands. Light and frothy are the usual, and so it wa...
Recital
PUNGENT WALTZES AND VIRTUOSITY IN LADEUR'S SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
San Francisco based pianist Jeffrey LaDeur has become one of the most sought-after North Bay virtuosi, and cemented that reputation July 17 in a short but eclectic recital in Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village Chamber Music Series. Before 140 in the Village’s auditorium Mr. LaDeur began with Schubert...
Choral and Vocal
NOBLE BRAHMS REQUIEM PERFORMANCE CLOSES SONOMA BACH'S SEASON
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 01, 2019
Sonoma Bach, conducted by Robert Worth, presented a truly grand finale to their 2018-19 "Light Out of Darkness" season in two sold out Schroeder Hall performances June 1 and 2. The program "A Human Requiem" was received rapturously with a well-deserved standing ovation for the main work, Brahms' ...
Chamber
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six song...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
American Philharmonic Sonoma County / Sunday, April 01, 2012
John Kendall Bailey, conductor. Solenn Seguillon, violin

Violinist Solenn Segullion

SYMPHONIC CONNECTIONS EXPLORED IN APRIL 1 AMERICAN PHIL CONCERT

by Peter Jaret
Sunday, April 01, 2012

It's no easy task to open an orchestral concert with Brahms Symphony No. 1. The work begins as if in midstream, at an emotional pitch many symphonies take a movement or more to reach, and Brahms composed the introduction after the bulk of his symphony was written, which may explain why it sounds less like an introduction than an elaboration.

On April 1 at the Wells Fargo Center the American Philharmonic Sonoma County was in full command from the first bars of the urgently pulsing, emotionally-charged introduction which features a rising theme from the strings contrasted by a falling woodwind theme, set against the steady monotonic drumbeat of timpani. The exceptionally fine ensemble playing of the woodwind section was graced by oboist Chris Krive, who conveyed Brahms' lines with unusual sweetness. Violinist Linda Welter led a string section that has never sounded better, playing with great sensitivity and dynamic range.

At times during the first movement the timpani threatened to overpower the rest of the orchestra, particularly the relatively small string section. But the balance soon righted itself, and the orchestra captured the elaborate counterpoint, tricky polyrhythms, and quicksilver thematic changes of this monumental work with great authority. The horns, such an essential part of Brahms' orchestration, were strong and sonorous, both in their ensemble playing and in solo passages. The composer required the trombonists to sit out the first three movements. It was worth the wait when their clarion call sounded the Beethoven-inspired theme of the final movement.

Each of the orchestra's five concerts this season highlights a different conductor, all of them finalists for the position of music director to replace outgoing Gabriel Sakakeeny. For this fourth concert of the season John Kendall Bailey took the podium. At moments his conducting style looked distractingly like interpretative dance, responding to rather than leading the group. And there were passages during the Brahms when the complex crosscurrents of the piece became briefly muddled. But he also coaxed thrilling moments of beauty from the orchestra, especially during the third movement, with its joyous trio section featuring flute, oboe and bassoon. And while remarks by conductors are usually best kept to an absolute minimum, Bailey's prefatory descriptions of the pieces were helpful, especially to guide new listeners.

The second half opened with Ralph Vaughan Williams' resplendent The Lark Ascending, featuring violinist Solenn Seguillon in her second solo appearance with American Philharmonic. Sequillon held the audience rapt as she unfurled the lush, rising lines of the lark's theme with exquisite grace and power. Even in the highest register, her tone was warm and musical. There were moments when the audience seemed to be barely breathing, the hall was so quiet. The piece features intimate conversations between the solo violin and several instrumentalists, including French horn, oboe, bassoon, flute and clarinet. All of the players performed with sensitivity and agility.

The final work on the program, Strauss' Death and Transfiguration, neatly echoed what came before. Strauss' tone poem, which conveys the final hours of a man's life and the transfiguration of his soul, begins with a pulsing beat reminiscent of the opening of Brahms' first symphony. The lush rising melodic lines of the final section, depicting the transfiguration of his soul, call to mind Williams' ascending lark. The orchestra performed with deep feeling, dramatically contrasting the agitated and rhythmically complex passages that depict pain and fear with the tranquil sections conveying recollections of happier times. Death is signaled by a tam-tam, played with admirable restraint by percussionist Mary Gillespie-Greenberg, making the moment all the more moving.

The orchestra offered up its most impressive ensemble playing for the final moments of the piece, fully conveying the majestic sense of mystery that pervades Strauss' musical rendering of the progress of the soul.

After the poignantly hushed conclusion, there was a long moment of silence, followed by tumultuous and sustained applause.