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Chamber
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
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.