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!


Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
October 3, 2010

Sunday night’s concert by the Shanghai Quartet at Le Petit Trianon in San José opened the 25th season of the San José Chamber Music Society. It also served as the Society’s contribution to Shanghai Celebration 2010, a Bay Area–wide, yearlong festival commemorating San Francisco’s sister-city relationship with the Chinese city.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
October 2, 2010

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony have a long history of successful and seemingly idiomatic performances of French music, and thus Saturday’s program, advertised as “French Classics,” looked both appealing and promising.

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Dance Review
October 1, 2010

Last week marked the first return of the Mark Morris Dance Group to UC Berkeley since Robert Cole’s retirement and Matías Tarnopolsky’s start as director of Cal Performances; Friday at Zellerbach Hall, it was good to see that not much has changed. The choreographer best known for illuminating complex scores and the dancers known for making virtuosity out of unaffected humanity were both doing just that — yet, in unexpected ways, Morris may have raised the bar.

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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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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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