Georgia Rowe has been a Bay Area arts writer since 1986. She is Opera News’ chief San Francisco correspondent, and a frequent contributor to San Francisco Classical Voice, Musical America, San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, and San Francisco Examiner. Her work has also appeared in Gramophone, San Francisco Magazine, and Songlines.
Articles by this Author
Second nights are notoriously difficult to pull off, whether they’re in the theater or the concert hall. But David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony blazed through the second of two programs Sunday at Davies Symphony Hall, sustaining the excitement they had generated on the previous evening and elevating even the most familiar repertoire to the level of the sublime.
Beethoven cast an enormous shadow over the composers of his era, as well as those who followed; Brahms, who was particularly intimidated by the master, despaired of ever writing a symphony. “You have no idea,” he told a friend, “how the likes of us feel when we hear the tramp of a giant like him behind us.”
Intimidation eventually yielded to inspiration — which, according to Berkeley Symphony music director Joana Carneiro, was the theme of the orchestra’s concert Thursday evening at Zellerbach Hall.
In a year that marks the bicentenaries of Frédéric Chopin and Robert Schumann, it can’t be easy to decide which composer to celebrate. On Saturday evening at Davies Symphony Hall, soprano Dawn Upshaw and pianist Emanuel Ax split the difference and presented an enjoyable duo recital that gave each composer equal time.
For mastery of dynamics, unity of utterance, and sheer tonal beauty, aficionados would be hard-pressed to find a more accomplished a cappella ensemble than the Swedish Radio Choir. Under guest conductor Ragnar Bohlin, the 32-member group appeared in Hertz Hall on the UC Berkeley campus Sunday afternoon, and the music-making was as wide-ranging as it was sonically pristine.
Some guys have all the luck — or at least it seems that way with Joshua Bell. In the last decade, the American violinist has become one of the most successful artists in classical music history, selling millions of CDs and stacking up awards like so many Legos. With his boyish good looks, it would be easy to dismiss him as the industry’s most marketable commodity. Yet his meteoric rise isn’t all hype: Sunday afternoon at Zellerbach Hall, a few thousand fans braved the wet weather to hear him in a duo recital presented by Cal Performances, and they didn’t go away disappointed.