Primary tabs

Janos Gereben

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

Articles by this Author

Archive Review
December 9, 2008

My first encounter with the piano came from a Tom and Jerry cartoon, where Tom plays Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. I had no idea what it was, but it made me want to play the piano.
Lang Lang was 2 years old when that historic event occurred. A few months later, he started playing the piano, at age 5 he won his first contest ... and the rest is history.

More »
Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
November 20, 2008

Halloween has long gone, but Berkeley Symphony music director candidate Paul Haas arrived wearing a disguise.

More »
Feature Article
November 25, 2008

Religious holidays occur in the context of philosophies favoring the small over the big, the poor over the rich. Accordingly, this report will relegate the usual large and often costly events to an end-of-file roundup. Up front, there will be smaller, less familiar, and less costly events. Also, we are including celebrations by other than established religions, featuring events that are festive and fun, even if without a significant "message."

More »
Archive Review
November 25, 2008

Mahler's 1910 Eighth Symphony, called by some (but surely not by high-minded musicologists) "Symphony of a Thousand," is among the most massive works in all of music. It requires eight heavy-duty soloists and, in the current San Francisco Symphony production, it uses three choruses of some 250 singers, and two orchestras, totaling more than 100 instrumentalists.

More »
Archive Review
November 4, 2008

Donizetti's most effervescent music, a simple and heartwarming story, melodies galore — The Elixir of Love is a virtually foolproof opera. Small companies, even schools produce it successfully, and even in a big house, you can't really fault a "prudent" approach to casting young singers, not-quite-stars, and such. The work will take care of itself.

More »
Archive Review
October 28, 2008

Not all Russians are alike. Modest Mussorgsky wrote big, earthshaking operas. Anton Chekhov created gloriously subtle, understated plays.
Attributed to Mussorgsky, the version of Boris Godunov that San Francisco Opera presents in its new production of the work ends suddenly, quietly, Chekhovlike, sending the audience out into the street in a state of puzzlement, thinking: "Is it really over? What was that?!"

More »
Kids & Families Feature
October 21, 2008

St. Martin de Porres is a small parochial school in North Oakland. It is named for a 17th-century Dominican brother from Peru who was famous for establishing orphanages and children’s hospitals. He was canonized in 1962.

St. Martin’s has some 200 “students of color,” fully 90 percent of them on financial assistance, and as many qualifying for a free or reduced-cost lunch. But the school had no music program whatsoever.

More »
Feature Article
October 21, 2008

St. Martin de Porres is a small parochial school in North Oakland. It is named for a 17th-century Dominican brother from Peru who was famous for establishing orphanages and children's hospitals. He was canonized in 1962. St. Martin's has some 200 "students of color," fully 90 percent of them on financial assistance, and as many qualifying for a free or reduced-cost lunch. But the school had no music program whatsoever. That's the kind of situation that a contemporary Venezuelan secular saint, José Antonio Abreu, was driven to change.

More »
Archive Review
September 16, 2008

"These are the things I know," begins Amy Tan's novel The Bonesetter's Daughter. And, these are the things I know after the Saturday premiere of the opera by Stewart Wallace, with Tan's libretto:

More »
Archive Review
August 26, 2008

David Sloss and the Fremont Symphony proved last weekend that the rave review for the Fremont Opera's inaugural production of La Bohème last year was not the result of a fluke. This time, the fledgling but impressively talented company took on Rossini's Barber of Seville, also one of the most popular — and therefore "transparent" — operas, singing it in Italian, with English subtitles.

More »
Archive Review
August 26, 2008

Musiciens Sans Frontières have arrived, musicians without regard to genre frontiers, courtesy of the Wordless Music Series, which premiered at Herbst Theatre on Thursday.

More »
Feature Article
August 19, 2008

The wistful lyrics from West Side Story must have had a special meaning for David Gockley as he contemplated the lack of appropriate performance venues in the city. It was a couple of years ago, and Gockley had just arrived as the new general director of San Francisco Opera. Among the first questions asked of him was whether he'd be interested in reviving the company's old Spring Opera Theater. The answer was an instant "yes," clearly indicating that Gockley is among the many fans of the low-cost series featuring young talent in the 1960s and '70s.

More »
Archive Review
August 12, 2008

There are few plays as firmly in charge of their own stage destiny as Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. It's all in the text, of course, but also in the style of the piece, with its shimmering, playful way of intermingling spirits and mortals. Significant alteration is not really feasible, so writers and composers must follow Master William's playbook.

More »
Archive Review
August 5, 2008

[email protected]'s survey of music history arrived triumphantly at 20th Century Unlimited over the weekend. Program IV, "The Rise of Modernism," shone with rousing performances of Debussy, Stravinsky, Gruenberg, Ives, Britten, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich. The sold-out house in St. Mark's Episcopal Church was hot not only in the wake of an unusual 90-degree day in Palo Alto, but also from the heat of creative juices flowing freely all evening long.

More »
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.

More »
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.

More »
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.

More »
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."

More »
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."

More »
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.

More »

Pages