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
January 4, 2011

What better way to usher in a new year than to have fun with that funmost of instruments, the clarinet? Those who love William Bolcom’s Graceful Ghost reinvention of ragtime will take instantly to the first four cuts of this new Harmonia Mundi release.

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CD Review
December 28, 2010

Composer Rodolphe Kreutzer — pretty much off the public’s radar, but very much on the violin student’s — is brought to life in a fantastic CD by Axel Strauss thanks to his incredible nimbleness in both hands and one utterly lovely cantabile.

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CD Review
December 28, 2010

If this album garners the Grammy it’s been nominated for, it will not only properly reward Matt Haimovitz and his self-described big band of cellos, it will also help legitimize the concept of the award category “Classical Crossover.” Either way, it leaves us cheering for that Grammy — and for more quality crossover.

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CD Review
December 21, 2010

Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic deliver a reading of Tchaikovsky's beloved score that is — wonder of wonders — fresh and deeply felt.

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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 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 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 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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