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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
Sonoma County Philharmonic / Saturday, January 26, 2019
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Tom Hyde, trumpet; Anthony Perry, English horn; Lin He, violin

Violinist Lin He

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 Sonoma County Philharmonic managed to master the new hall and produced music at their usual high level before 250 people, with a repeat the following afternoon.

Conductor Norman Gamboa drew a warm sound from his orchestra in the Bruch Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46, with violin soloist Lin He. Mr. He’s focused and plangent sound was never large, and recalled the recent poised but not extravagant or high temperature approach of violinist Jennifer Koh with the Marin Symphony. The conductor’s section placement was usual (second violins stage left) but the concert harp was surprisingly positioned next to the cellos, and soloist Cristina Kopriva had a prominent part in the lyrical Bruch.

Acoustics in the Jackson were sharply less reverberant than the Santa Rosa High School hall, but warm and direct with the lip of the balcony much closer to the stage front than at SRHS. This seemed to favor the poetry of the adagio cantabile, ending with Mr. He’s brilliant high e string note. The scherzo’s expressive themes were projected well by Ms. Kopriva and Mr. He, with the latter’s wide vibrato and lovely trills.

Intonation difficulties at the opening of the andante sostenuto and blurring in fast scale passages resolved quickly, and Mr. He played the virtuoso ascending and descending runs and double stops in exemplary fashion. Passages from the five horns were splendid. The finale was lively with Mr. Gamboa in consummate control and Mr. He widening his vibrato and finishing the cadenza with a long and perfectly shaped trill.

Following intermission English hornist Anthony Perry and trumpeter Tom Hyde were the soloists in Copeland’s meditative 11-minute Quiet City, composed in 1941. As usual Mr. Hyde’s conclusive playing was never piercing or shrill, and he swelled on notes to achieve substantial loudness. The unique English horn sound has been in my ears since first hearing it in the introduction to the third act of Tristan und Isolde, and here Mr. Perry beguiling playing was softly effective. Mr. Gamboa drew subtle string playing from the reduced orchestra, and his pacing was generous.

Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Op. 36, concluded the concert in a performance where brass and horn solos were prominent, and splendid playing abounded throughout. Mr. Gamboa was clearly shaping the long thematic line throughout the 14 variations. Fetching individual playing came from clarinetist Nick Xenelis; flutists Emily Reynolds and Valerie White; Miranda Kincaid (bassoon) and in several short solos by violist Robby Morales.

The famous adagio variation (No. 9, “Nimrod”) was played with a light touch and the conductor moved the tempo and shaped a lovely flute phrase. There was only a brief accelerando leading to the finale, and throughout the 33-minute piece Mr. Gamboa never was in any hurry, letting instrument sound ranging from Floyd Reinhart’s tuba part to frequently rumbling strings to shine forth.

The Jackson provided a happy musical home for its new resident orchestra.

Ending the 20th anniversary season will be concerts in Jackson April 6 (7:30) and 7 (2:00) with the main work Prokofiev’s monumental Fifth Symphony in B Flat Major, Op. 100.