Reviews Archive


Chamber Music REVIEW
 Left Coast Chamber Ensemble  Companionable Scores
December 10, 2009

The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble’s practice of commissioning companion pieces to established repertoire is such a marvelous idea that it’s strange not to see it emulated everywhere. Judging by composers’ program notes, the general concept is all over the place; composers are always, it seems, being asked to write companion works to this or that.

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Chamber Music REVIEW
 Cal Performances Kronos Quartet and Joan Jeanrenaud Epic Reunion
December 13, 2009

The Kronos Quartet reunited with its former longtime cellist, Joan Jeanrenaud, on Sunday at UC Berkeley's Hertz Hall, for a program of fascinating, if not brilliant, new music. At their Cal Performances recital, the group premiered Vladimir Martynov’s Schubert-Quintet (Unfinished), commissioned by the ensemble. It essentially consists of a few measures lifted from the gorgeous slow second movement of Franz Schubert’s Cello Quintet, Op.

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Recital REVIEW
 Cal Performances  The New Depths of Renée Fleming
December 6, 2009

Renée Fleming surprised us on Sunday night. Walking onto the Zellerbach Hall stage for her virtually sold-out Cal Performances recital, ensconced in a form-fitting, gorgeous green dress that would be the envy of any prom queen, she looked as beautiful as ever. But no one expected her, after she took her place alongside the piano, to pick up a microphone and address the audience.

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Chamber Music REVIEW
 Pacific Mozart Ensemble (PME)  Keeper of the Passion's Flame
December 4, 2009

Since Christmas celebrates the birth of the Holy Son, a piece about the death of an earthly girl might seem out of place on a holiday concert. This weekend, though, the Pacific Mozart Ensemble, the Grammy-nominated chorus directed by Lynne Morrow and Richard Grant, delivered a winter concert that revolved around precisely such a piece.

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Choral REVIEW
 Magnificat  Milanese Mass and Motets
December 6, 2009

Magnificat’s dazzling singers have done it again. As part of their ongoing project to perform and record the complete works of Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, four singers brought her glorious music vividly to life in a performance Saturday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley. The four women sang music that Cozzolani wrote for the famous singing nuns in her convent, Santa Radegonda, in 17th-century Milan.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 Santa Rosa Symphony  We Have Ignition
December 5, 2009

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has been played repeatedly in Sonoma County during the past decade, beginning with a memorable performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony under Jeffrey Kahane in the aftermath of 9/11. That event was so successful that several other renditions followed, including one in the Sonoma State University gym. The culmination, however, arrived at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, with a spine-tingling presentation by the Santa Rosa Symphony under Music Director Bruno Ferrandis.

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Choral REVIEW
   Tallis Scholars’ Telltale Sounds
December 4, 2009

Amid an ever-expanding roster of outstanding Renaissance ensembles, the Tallis Scholars remains a force to be reckoned with. For several decades now, Director Peter Phillips and his singers have been leaders on the early-music scene through internationally renowned tours and recordings, as well as by cultivating a distinctively bright sound, anchored by laser-sharp sopranos and rich, voluminous basses. At its best, this sound conveys remarkable purity and crispness, with an icy edge.

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Chamber Music REVIEW
 San Francisco Performances Ji Young Yang and Gerald Thompson Shepherdess With a Sword
December 2, 2009

When Christine Lim of San Francisco Performances invited former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow soprano Ji Young Yang to present a one-hour Salon at the Rex, Yang proposed a pairing with her fellow, former Adlerian, countertenor Gerald Thompson. Thus was born a duo recital that began with early music, then embraced the unexpected.

The duo immediately set the tone on Wednesday night with two works by Purcell.

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Choral REVIEW
 San Francisco Symphony Chorus  Doctored Bach, A Balm to the Soul
November 29, 2009

Some pedantic fuddy-duddies may decry what transpired in Davies Symphony Hall last weekend, but those who love music, and who especially love J.S. Bach, were happy to experience an outstanding performance of an edited version of his Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248.

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Chamber Music REVIEW
 Chora Nova  Gems From Ludwig
November 21, 2009

When it comes to Beethoven’s vocal music, the average listener’s familiarity is probably limited to a few classics: his opera Fidelio, the Missa solemnis, the final movement of Symphony No. 9. Yet a treasure trove of repertory lies hidden beneath these monuments — many vocal works, in fact, many of quite superior quality but habitually ignored except among specialists.

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