Jeff Rosenfeld is an oboist with the Kensington Symphony and other Bay Area ensembles.
Articles by this Author
At one time, Italian music meant throbbing voices soaring unashamedly through ornate melodies, propelled by the pulsating oom-pah-pah of an orchestra masquerading as a massive guitar. In its latest concert, last Monday at the Green Room of San Francisco’s Veterans War Memorial, the Left Coast Ensemble took stock of recent Italian music. The results could not have been further from the distinctively tuneful opulence of Bellini and Verdi. Yet somehow the pulse is still thriving.
No music makes a bigger statement than the brassy sunrise of Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra. Because tour programs are generally about making statements, the extravagant tone poem based on Nietzsche's extravagantly confident philosophy is music befitting the San Francisco Symphony's current itinerary. This week the orchestra heads to New York, Vienna, and Prague with the Strauss showpiece in the music folders, but on the basis of Saturday's concert at Davies Symphony Hall, its big statements will be made by the "little" moments.
At nearly every turn there was something crazy about the Berkeley Symphony concert on Thursday, making it one of the most stimulating but maddening musical events of the year. To begin with, however, give kudos to the orchestra for scheduling itself two dates in Berkeley’s First Congregational Church, instead of Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus, barely a stone’s throw away. The sanctuary gave the orchestra’s sound a welcome bloom but equal clarity to all the instrumental sections. The ensemble seemed commensurately assured, coordinated, and energetic.
To say we heard Martin Fröst play the clarinet at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre on Thursday would be an understatement. We came to see his San Francisco Performances debut, and in return he made us see how music can defy gravity. Fröst is a virtuoso with the instrument, and his sound, always miraculously well-tuned, can soar effortlessly and beautifully, thanks in part to a gently stifled tone that, over inhuman stretches, is unbroken by audible breathing.