Classical Music Reviews

Every week, our professional critics attend concerts throughout the Bay Area to let you know what went well...and occasionally what didn't. Let their insights enrich your musical experiences, and feel free to share your own views!


Choral Review
December 18, 2010

Magnificat’s Christmas concert, a celebration of a midnight Mass by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, sung by a solo quintet and accompanied by an all-star early-music band of seven players combined for an excellent ensemble.

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Choral Review
December 15, 2010

A powerful and inspirational performance by the American Bach Soloists brought Handel’s Messiah to life, in a lovely evening showcasing the voice of baritone James Maddalena.

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DVD Review
December 14, 2010

Hard to believe, but for 50 years Gounod’s Faust reigned as the world’s most popular opera. These days, it has fallen to No. 29 in popularity. If Faust and the devil have a any chance of resurrection, it will take productions such as this. Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
December 12, 2010

Holiday concerts by the SFEMS bring a number of unusual sounds to Bay Area audiences. Sunday’s concert presented Ciaramella, an ensemble dedicated to music of the 15th century, showcasing the celebratory Renaissance music of the season, and how pleasing it can be to modern audiences.

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Chamber Music Review
December 12, 2010

You rarely hear French Baroque music performed as exquisitely as the Aulos Ensemble did it on Sunday at Kohl Mansion. That's what 40 years of experience will get you.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
December 9, 2010

It was Robert Schumann, speaking of string quartets, who advised players to aim for “a conversational tone in which everyone has something to say.” The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble clearly had those words in mind on Thursday night in Mill Valley.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
December 8, 2010

Vision and a certain sense of rightness made for an exceptional evening at last Wednesday’s San Francisco Symphony subscription concert: Three masters, Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, guest violinist Gil Shaham, and principal trumpet Mark Inouye, provided hole-in-one performances.

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CD Review
December 7, 2010

The nine men of Clerestory have taken a daring step. For their first “studio-recorded” CD, laid down in the sanctuary of Berkeley’s Unitarian Universalist Church, they perform music inspired by the three closely aligned celebrations of Halloween, All Soul’s Day, and El día de los muertos.

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Recital Review
December 4, 2010

The stage at Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus is large enough to fit a full orchestra. But on Saturday night, one man stood alone on the stage with his violin, dressed in black, lit by a spotlight against a solid dark backdrop. No piano accompaniment or even a music stand — the solitary Christian Tetzlaff, playing the complete Sonatas and Partitas.

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Choral Review
December 4, 2010

Advent has begun; Christmas is coming. And choruses are singing the Messiah. Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra’s performance was a triumph and the chorus and orchestra sang and played as one instrument.

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