Reviews Archive


Archive REVIEW
   Shout to Heaven
December 16, 2008

The Santa Rosa Symphony has more than earned its role as the future orchestra-in-residence at the Green Music Center, now edging toward completion at Sonoma State University (see the feature article). It has made remarkable progress during the past two decades, even under the handicap of an acoustically mediocre home.

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Archive REVIEW
   Brubeck's Devotions' and Brahms' Lovesongs
December 16, 2008

To say that the Pacific Mozart Ensemble concerts are eclectic is a serious understatement. Having researched a few of their previous programs, I can’t think of a single San Francisco group — and very few elsewhere — that display this much variety, creativity, and invention in programming. Certainly, their December 18 concert in the Green Room at the Veterans War Memorial Building, and titled “Brubeck and Brahms: Canticles and Love Songs” fit this mold.

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Archive REVIEW
   Taking the Grand Approach
December 16, 2008

Last Thursday, the Berkeley Symphony welcomed Joana Carneiro, the last of six candidates to appear at Zellerbach Hall and make a case for their being appointed as music director. Carneiro's selection of pieces was probably the least eclectic of all the candidates' programs, though she chose hers strategically.

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Archive REVIEW
   Birthday Moods
December 16, 2008

Born a hundred years ago, just a single day apart, Olivier Messiaen and Elliott Carter, otherwise such strange musical bedfellows, had their December birthdays jointly celebrated Monday in San Francisco's Green Room, in a concert by the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble. Messiaen died in 1992 at age 84, but Carter lives on, seems in steady good health, and with his abilities intact continues to write music.

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Archive REVIEW
   No Double Whammy
December 16, 2008

Even in opera, where plots deal with the structure of destiny, it’s music, not words, that provides power.
— Marcel Marceau, 1987
A composer may write fabulous music, but a weak libretto can kill it as an opera.
— Jake Heggie, 2008
Every composer dreams of writing fabulous music to the perfect, dramatic libretto. Yet few, if any, operas written in the last 50 years have achieved the double whammy of having both great music and great theater.

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Archive REVIEW
   Viva la Revolution
December 16, 2008

"Music didn't always use to be so [bleepin'] pretentious," whispered one of the "concert" goers as he stood on the sidewalk, rolling a cigarette while listening to the Brahms G-minor Piano Quartet. As the performers started to play the Alla Zingara "Gypsy" movement, listeners whistled, whooped, and yelled "Yeah!

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Archive REVIEW
   Holiday Cheer
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
   Double Impact
December 16, 2008

Cello recitals have rarely created the kind of audience reactions witnessed Thursday evening at Herbst Theatre, under the auspices of San Francisco Performances. There, cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan blew the crowd away with several performances of a lifetime — all the while largely avoiding repertoire that is frequently performed. That's doing it the hard way.

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Archive REVIEW
   Singing for the Joy of It
December 16, 2008

What would Bay Area choral groups do without Christmas? Even if our amateur choruses can’t compete with the professionals, the warmth and good cheer they generate among audience members, plus the delicious postconcert receptions, go a long way toward justifying the price of admission.
A good example is Voices of Musica Sacra, a chamber chorus of some 40 volunteer members.

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Archive REVIEW
   Labor of Love
December 9, 2008

Many times people have asked me, shaking their heads: “How can anyone like that [dissonant, earsplitting, academic, boring, pointless, random — pick your adjective] modern music?” But the fact is, incredible as it may seem to some traditional classical music fans, many people do, as evidenced by the crowd filling the risers to near capacity in the Yerba Center for the Arts Forum Monday evening.
The draw was a milestone of Modernism, Pierre Boulez' Le Marteau sans maître (The hammer without a master, 1955), which took up the second half of the program.

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