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Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].

Articles by this Author

Archive Review
July 22, 2008

Few rock concerts are as eventful as the Wagner-Mozart-Bach presentation at Festival del Sole last Thursday turned out to be. The news included the disruptive effects of a Presidental visit and roadblock, a serious injury to the conductor/violinist the day before the concert, and a near-catastrophic memory lapse by the pianist.

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Archive Review
July 15, 2008

Unusual as it may be to mention the economy and other seemingly extraneous items right at the top of a concert review, the unusual nature of said economy (and its relationship to the arts) well warrants doing so here.

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Archive Review
June 3, 2008

The Ring of Richard Wagner's four-opera, 15-hour Der Ring des Nibelungen"is an instrument of pure evil. It represents extreme greed and the drive for absolute power. This Ring corrupts and destroys its owners, be they dwarfs, giants, heroes, gods or, at the end, in the flames of The Twilight of the Gods, the old world order itself.

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Feature Article
June 3, 2008

I had to look up the date, but the scene itself is still clear in my mind after so many years. In 1982, Calvin Simmons — about to go on stage to conduct his orchestra, the Oakland Symphony — ended an interview in the wings of the Paramount Theatre by saying, "I am here because of Madi."

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Archive Review
May 27, 2008

How do you produce a Wagner opera on a stage not much bigger than a living room?
How do you present a "Wagnerian" (in fact and in size) score with an orchestra whose string section consists of six violins, two violas, two cellos, and a double bass?

The expected response of "very carefully" doesn't apply in the case of West Bay Opera's production of Der fliegende Holländer; the correct description is "amazingly well."

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Archive Review
May 6, 2008

Another huge feather — Cyrano's famed plume, even — in Berkeley Opera's tiny cap, the double-bill of Béla Bartók's 1918 A Kékszakállú Herceg Vára (Bluebeard's Castle) and Maurice Ravel's 1925 L'Enfant et les sortilèges (The child and the magic spells) opened Saturday night at the Julia Morgan Theatre with a fabulous production and some kind of prestidigitation.

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Feature Article
May 6, 2008

Leif Ove Andsnes is a pianist with an enormous repertory, ranging from classics to many contemporary composers, so you might presume that performing the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major Op. 83, is just "part of the job." You would be wrong.

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Archive Review
April 15, 2008

San Francisco Conservatory of Music's young artists went way back in time to present an opera three-and-a-half centuries old, last weekend in Fort Mason Center's Cowell Theater. Richard Harrell, director of the Conservatory's Opera Theater, has bravely (and judging by the results, wisely) selected Francesco Cavalli's 1643 L'Egisto, a sensation in its time, but virtually impossible to find performed today.

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Archive Review
April 8, 2008

Mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack comes from Buenos Aires, and her home is now in San Francisco, but her future is in the great opera houses and recital halls of the world. Her Schwabacher Debut Recital Sunday only confirmed what her Merola Program appearances last year — especially in the title role of La cenerentola — clearly indicated: She is a phenomenon.

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Archive Review
March 25, 2008

It doesn't matter how much hype is swirling around conductor Gustavo Dudamel. He is the real deal, a great all-around young talent, who consistently delivers the goods, as his debut concerts with the San Francisco Symphony last week proved.

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Archive Review
March 18, 2008

L'elisir d'amore (The elixir of love) is not only one of most melodious and rhythmically exciting works in all opera, it also testifies to its composer's defiant humanity. Gaetano Donizetti endured many personal tragedies, including the loss of his wife in a cholera epidemic in 1837, the deaths of all three of his children shortly after their births, and a horrible, debilitating disease, which caused his mental deterioration and death in 1848.

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Archive Review
March 11, 2008

When Jacques Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld was first performed in Paris, in 1858, the famed critic Jules Noriac, of mighty Le Figaro, stammered with delight: "Unheard-of. Splendid. Outrageous. Graceful. Charming. Witty. Amusing. Successful. Perfect ..."

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Archive Review
February 19, 2008

West Bay Opera's current production of Così fan tutte stands tall on the twin ramparts of Barbara Day Turner's rock-solid conducting of a fair-to-middling orchestra, and Douglas Nagel's vital, if risky, staging. Combined, they made for fine musical theater, if not quite dramma per musica.

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Archive Review
February 5, 2008

Schubert’s song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin may be the richest treatment of a simple story in all music. Young man loves the miller's daughter, she prefers a hunter, young man drowns himself in the brook — and that's all there is.

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Archive Review
December 18, 2007

If noble titles were given as rewards for excellence, the FOG Trio would be royalty. While "FOG" also indicates the trio's connections with San Francisco, the name is formed by the players' last names: F is for violinist Jorja Fleezanis (former San Francisco Symphony associate concertmaster), O is for world traveler/San Francisco resident pianist Garrick Ohlsson, G is for San Francisco Symphony principal cellist Michael Grebanier. W is for Wow.

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Archive Review
December 11, 2007

A music teacher returned to his old school on Saturday night, three decades after writing his breakout piece there, and the brilliant concert that took place exceeded all expectations of such an occasion. More than a sentimental reunion or dutiful observance of the passage of time, this was a poignant and powerful musical lovefest, some of the teacher's finest and most complex music, performed with startling excellence by a new generation of students.

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Archive Review
November 6, 2007

It was all treats and no tricks whatsoever in Davies Hall on Halloween night as far as the music went. Appearances, on the other hand, were somewhat misleading.

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Archive Review
October 23, 2007

When the ghost of Jacob Marley first appears in Dickens' A Christmas Carol, practical, level-headed Ebenezer Scrooge suspects "an undigested bit of beef" at work, rather than a supernatural knocking at the door. Thursday night, in Davies Hall, I was searching my memory for any recent digestive mishap that might have caused my strange state of mind.

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Archive Review
October 16, 2007

You haven't lived fully until hearing opera in a small Italian town — the smaller the better. Forget the niceties of production values and flawless performances; instead, you can revel in the most essential component of the genre: passion.

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Archive Review
September 25, 2007

For those who can't (or won't) see the forest of an opera for the trees of performance minutiae, here's the word about the San Francisco Opera's new production of Wagner's Tannhäuser that opened on Tuesday night: Donald Runnicles' Opera Orchestra and Ian Robertson's Opera Chorus give a magnificent account of the music, which is among Wagner's most sweeping and bewitching.

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