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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Allan Pollack, conductor. Frederick von Stade and Melissa Angulo, soprano; Jeremiah Smith, bass-baritone

Frederick Von Stade (l) and Melissa Angula July 22 with Alan Pollack Photo (N. Wilson photo)

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 a happy prelude to the anticipated singing and the famous final Mozart Symphony.

In the first half works associated with Mozart’s operas were heard, and the starring role was given to the splendid mezzo-soprano Fredericka Von Stade. The venerable artist sang two arias (“Vedrai Carino” from Don Giovanni and “Una donna a quindici anni” from Cosi Fan Tutte), charmed the audience with repartee as only a diva can do, and joined with two young singers from Berkeley in sparkling duets. Jeremiah Smith came first with the “La ci darem” from Don Giovanni, a baritone aria that he sang with refinement but without the requisite power, and Ms. Von Stade was his perfect foil as Zerlina. More vocal potency came from soprano Melissa Angula in “Come scoglio” (Cosi), the singing being energetic but top notes were shrill and the orchestra covered her at times. Ms. Angula commands and long and even trills.

How is Ms. Von Stade at this point in a career that began 45 years ago in New York? She still has a lyrical Cherubino (Marriage of Figaro) with deft communication and élan if slightly reduced projection and vocal color, and she ebulliently commanded every inch of the stage. In the duo with Ms. Angula they sang from a faux score that when turned over revealed and large Nicholas Wilson photo of Mr. Pollack, to much laughter and apparently was unforeseen by the conductor. Ovations during this set from the audience of 750 were long and loud.

As good as the singing was, the C Major Symphony (K. 551, “Jupiter”) was the concert’s highlight. Here conductor Alan Pollack brought mostly moderate tempos to the four movements of Mozart’s last and greatest symphonic work. Solid brass and flute (Mindy Rosenfeld) playing characterized the opening Allegro Vivace with several modulations bringing the composer’s dramatic contrasts into relief and a lovely oboe solo from Thomas Nugent.

The Andante had a personal character with pathos and an occasional rhythmic surprise. The muted strings sounded suitably rich. The Minuet was played in the manner of Haydn, richly blossoming into the Trio of winds and strings. The conductor controlled all very well, letting the tympani give just the right foundation support.

If the multi-fugue finale doesn’t excite an audience, no Mozart symphony movement will, and here Mr. Pollack drove a quiet beginning into a swifter tempo than anything before. The many short themes whirled by with a lot of energy, and the conductor never let the polyphony become murky, even with the tent’s unique acoustics and at elevated volumes.

It was an uplifting and cogent performance, down to the final six epochal chords that were in a small way an additional declaration of Mozart’s compositional genius.