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HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
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...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Piano Sonoma / Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Emi Ferguson, flute; Peter Dugan and Angie Zhang, piano; Down Na, violin; Julia Glenn, violin and viola; Michael Dahlberg, cello;

Flutist Emi Ferguson at Piano Sonoma Festival

YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT

by
Tuesday, August 1, 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-residence program attracting young musicians from leading music schools.

The evening began with playing of a section of Bach’s Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), Nos. 16-24 and Aria, arranged for strings. A portion of the entire set was featured at each of the four concerts, this time with pianist Angie Zhang, flautist Emi Ferguson, violinist Doori Na, violist Julia Glenn and cellist Michael Dahlberg. From the grand 16th variation “Ouverture” with its pomp and circumstance through the lilting 24th variation “Canone All’ Ottava,” the ensemble playing was strikingly good. These are polished young musicians already equipped with the interpretive skills of seasoned players. It served as a great start to what was a spectacular evening of music making.

Pianist Peter Dugan then offered Beethoven’s Bagatelles, Opus 126, and he is an artist with great expressive skills and has that special performance gene that allows him to communicate directly with an audience. His animated playing was infectious and yet he did it without any of the tawdry pianistic stage gestures one often sees. These are quiet pieces filled with emotion and Mr. Dugan could not have played them any better.

Next came the duo of Ms. Na and Ms. Zhang in a moving exposition of Mozart’s E Minor Piano and Violin Sonata, K. 304. These two seemed to be musical soul mates, as the instruments blended together to create a glorious result in this short work (under 14 minutes) that was written in 1778. For such youthful artists to play at this level was a joy to hear and see. Ms. Zhang was particularly sensitive in her playing and exhibited a thorough understanding of the sonata and its challenges. Mr. Na followed suit with elegant playing in the often somber second movement, in a tasteful partnership with Ms. Zhang. The enthusiastic audience expressed its approval.

The program closed with Haydn’s Piano Trio in G Major, Hob. XV:15, featuring Ms. Ferguson, Mr. Dahlberg and Mr. Dugan. In pre-performance remarks it was stated that Haydn loved to laugh, and the audience was asked to see if they heard any musical jokes, so to speak, in the score. The 20-minute piece from 1790 is certainly light-hearted and frothy in parts, and yet what the ensemble playing revealed was the rich harmonic contours of the score, especially during the andante movement. One literally had to restrain oneself from humming along. Ms. Ferguson’s sprightly flute virtuosity conveyed the emotional content of each movement beautifully. The piano line never dominated the performance and the three musicians had excellent ensemble.

It’s clear that the Piano Sonoma program has attracted serious artists in a Festival of charming music making.