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David Bratman

David Bratman is a librarian who lives with his lawfully wedded soprano and a wall full of symphony recordings.

Articles by this Author

Upcoming Concert
March 11, 2009
New string quartets inspired by older masterworks in the genre have a long tradition. The latest composer to add to it is John Adams. Hearing the St. Lawrence Quartet perform late Beethoven inspired him to write a new quartet, which the St. Lawrence will give the premiere performance of at this Stanford Lively Arts concert. It's an important new work by a major composer. Also on the program, an early Haydn (Op. 9, No. 2) and a late Dvorák (Op. 106). More »
Upcoming Concert
March 11, 2009
Symphony Silicon Valley's chorale is one of its best features, so the opportunity to hear them led by the renowned choral conductor Vance George, retired San Francisco Symphony choirmaster, should be a local highlight — especially when the program features the elegant and airy Requiem of Gabriel Fauré. This concert is not part of the regular Symphony Silicon Valley season. More »
Archive Review
February 3, 2009

The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra likes varied and unusual programs. Saturday's free concert at St. Mark's Church in Palo Alto was perhaps a little more unusual than most. The program, led by SFCO Music Director Benjamin Simon, featured two clarinet concertos and a handbell concerto, and the shortest piece was by Gustav Mahler, a composer not noted for brevity. The unsuspecting composer of the handbell concerto was Johann Christian Bach, the son of Johann Sebastian who moved to London and wrote elegant, courtly music that influenced the young Mozart.

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Archive Review
January 20, 2009

The battle of the musicologists broke out on Friday afternoon in Stanford University's Campbell Recital Hall. Joseph Horowitz, noted author of several books on the history of classical music in America, played a 1932 recording of Leopold Stokowski conducting the slow movement of Beethoven's Fifth. Horowitz described the performance as transformed from "Beethoven's Andante" into "Stokowski's Adagio," not only for being played unusually slowly but also for added pedal points, distinctive string sonority, and other changes. He found the result very attractive.

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Archive Review
January 6, 2009

Haydn's "Farewell" Symphony — the dark, somber one in a weird key (F-sharp minor), which ends with the musicians quietly leaving the stage by ones and twos, until only a pair of violinists are left to finish the piece — is the perfect work to serve as a metaphor for the end of a questionable year. So what happens when it's performed on New Year's Day instead of New Year's Eve, and the order of the repertoire is changed so that it no longer concludes the program?

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Archive Review
December 16, 2008

Christmas time is here, by golly. Time to mix a punch of Baroque orchestral music, sacred vocal music of various periods, and a medley of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs. That's what the New Century Chamber Orchestra served up for its December concerts last weekend. I heard Friday's performance at First United Methodist Church, the "concrete tent," in downtown Palo Alto.

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Archive Review
November 11, 2008

Masterworks Chorale, of San Mateo, stuffed Mozart's great big Mass in C Minor, K. 427, into the small confines of Trinity Presbyterian Church in San Carlos on Sunday afternoon. A lively and exciting time was had by all.

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Archive Review
November 4, 2008

The Romantic era in music is not dead. The Paris Piano Trio brought it, alive and kicking, to Kohl Mansion in Burlingame on Sunday. The ensemble's three noted performers, each one a distinguished professor at the Paris Conservatory, have been playing together for decades, and in recent years have been making a priority of touring with the repertoire for piano, violin, and cello.

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Archive Review
October 21, 2008

Economic crisis. Unedifying political campaigns. Fires, droughts, and earthquakes. What better to do with your anxieties on the night of the third presidential debate than spend the evening with Dmitri Shostakovich, whose problems were greater than yours? Wednesday's encounter with Shostakovich at Dinkelspiel Auditorium, under the auspices of Stanford Lively Arts, was hosted by the talented musicians of the Emerson String Quartet.

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Archive Review
October 14, 2008

I confess that I had not heard of the Santa Cruz Chamber Orchestra until I learned of the concert with which it opened its third season on Saturday. But it was a honey of a program that I wouldn't have missed for anything. The result was warm and delicious: two cold and austere Northern string orchestra works by Jean Sibelius and Pēteris Vasks rendered rich and resonant in the reverberant acoustics of Santa Cruz' Holy Cross Church, plus the comforting familiarity of Dvořák's Serenade for Strings.

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Archive Review
October 7, 2008

The Rose of Persia, currently being performed by Lyric Theatre at the Montgomery Theater in San Jose, was originally produced in 1899. It was probably the most successful operetta penned by Sir Arthur Sullivan after his collaboration with W.S. Gilbert. The libretto and lyrics are by one Captain Basil Hood, who did his darndest to serve up a Gilbertian pastiche.

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Archive Review
September 30, 2008

In its three years of existence, the Escher String Quartet has built a reputation as a highly intellectual ensemble of mechanical perfection but one that, at its worst, plays aridly without genuine emotion. However accurate that portrait may be, the quartet indulged that reputation when selecting the program for its concert on Sunday at Le Petit Trianon, in the San Jose Chamber Music Society concert series. All four works feature a fugue, that famously intellectually arid compositional form, in their finales.

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Archive Review
August 5, 2008

Last week was “The Romantic Generation” week at [email protected], and by the Romantic generation they mean Middle European Romantics. The music on the main concert program, which I heard on Monday at St. Mark’s Church in Palo Alto, was by Johannes Brahms and the two greatest of his close associates, Robert Schumann and Antonín Dvořák, with a slight ringer in the form of a small contribution from Hugo Wolf.

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Archive Review
August 5, 2008

Whatever work that Music Director Marin Alsop decides to program at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, you know it will at least be interesting and intellectually provocative. Whether it's beautiful or ultimately satisfying is more subjective, but I found Saturday's "Triple Play" concert fairly successful on those counts, as well. The musicians, under Alsop's confident direction, sounded articulately and passionately committed to the music.

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Archive Review
July 29, 2008

The best thing about the Carmel Bach Festival, besides that it's in Carmel, is that, as Calvin used to say to Hobbes, "The days are just packed." Except that, unlike Calvin's day, one at the festival really is packed. In 11 hours in town last Thursday, I attended two concerts, a preconcert lecture, a Q & A session, and a vocal master class, leaving time for a two-hour dinner break. Walking briskly between venues four or five blocks apart is good exercise.

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Archive Review
January 29, 2008

The Dutch language is closely related to Low German, but for at least the past two centuries the Netherlands' cultural relations have been as close with France as with any other country. (Vincent van Gogh, after all, went to France to paint.) So it's quite appropriate that the first of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra's programs at Davies Symphony Hall, performed on Sunday, should consist of French music. And as the Concertgebouw Orchestra is the greatest and most renowned of Dutch ensembles, it chose to play what are perhaps the two greatest and most renowned of French symphonies.

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Archive Review
October 16, 2007

Stanford's Dinkelspiel Auditorium is not a large hall, but the St. Lawrence String Quartet played there on Sunday afternoon with a sense of intimacy worthy of a far smaller venue. Not that it couldn't be heard, or anything like that. The nearly full audience hung on every note. But the quartet proved that there are other ways to provide an exciting and moving chamber music concert than by letting all the stops out.

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