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!


CD Review
September 30, 2010

It's not just his face and body that are hot. Vittorio Grigolo is the real thing, an Italian tenor with a beautiful voice, ringing high C,  and genuine feel for the music. This is the recital we've been waiting for.

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CD Review
September 28, 2010

Immeasurable Light, the new CD from Chinese pipa master Wu Man, virtually wallops you over the head with its first track, Jacob Garchik’s arrangement of The Round Sun and Crescent Moon in the Sky. Part of the repertoire of the Zhang Family Band, it is as raucous as it is joyous.

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Chamber Music Review
September 27, 2010

Does the personality of a composer matter? Will knowing more about the life of a composer enhance our experience of his or her music? “You bet!” is Other Minds’ answer, as judged from its Sept. 27 combo of exhibit, discussion, and performance that brought the remarkable Dane Rudhyar (1895-1985) back to life.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
September 25, 2010

If ever there were a composer whose music justified the use of old instruments, it is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But, modern pianists and orchestras frequently approach Wolfie’s music as if they’ve got kid gloves on. This was most certainly not the case when Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra teamed with fortepianist Robert Levin Saturday to present an all-Mozart program at Berkeley’s First Congregational Church.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
September 25, 2010

The Redwood Symphony celebrated its 25th anniversary on Saturday, opening its season with a potpourri of pleasing music at Cañada College in Redwood City. Eric Kujawsky, who founded the orchestra and has been its music director for all 25 years, conducted the occasion.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
September 22, 2010

The advance ads might have convinced you that the main event on this week’s San Francisco Symphony program was Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. To be sure, Michael Tilson Thomas and the orchestra performed the work as planned, conferring considerable eloquence and brio on Tchaikovsky’s monumental masterpiece. But the program’s greatest rewards came in a trio of American works by Aaron Copland and Lou Harrison. It may be some time before audiences hear any of these works played in the Bay Area again — or hear them played this well.

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Opera Review
September 21, 2010

When an opera is as brilliant as Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and everything onstage and in the pit clicks, the results can be magical. Such is the case with one of the most animated and delightful productions of the masterpiece that I have ever seen.

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CD Review
September 21, 2010

Time has smiled sweetly on Anonymous 4. Twenty-four years after their founding, three of four members of this chart-topping a cappella women’s vocal ensemble remain, sounding as good as ever ... and as simple as ever.

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Choral Review
September 17, 2010

Chanticleer began its 33rd season this week with “Out of This World,” a program built around music referencing the stars, the planets, and the heavens. The men’s chorus drew principally on music of the Renaissance, Romantic, and modern eras, and delivered a performance that was varied in content, well-nuanced, and crowd-pleasing.

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Opera Review
September 15, 2010

San Francisco Opera’s current production adopts Goethe’s ironic distance, but works against so much of what Massenet does with the music. On the other hand, it boasts an extremely strong cast, headed by Ramón Vargas and expertly conducted by Emmanuel Villaume. Everyone should hear Villaume’s stunning ensemble of singers and players.

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