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MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
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.