Reviews Archive


Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
September 11, 2009

Compared to other forms of music-making, classical music is noted for keeping to the original score rather than arranging works anew for each performer. Leonard Bernstein once even suggested that “exact music” would be a better name. Yet there is a place for arrangements in our field, and one of those places was the First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto on Friday, where the New Century Chamber Orchestra gave a concert of Bach and Mussorgsky ... with a difference.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
September 12, 2009

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra’s opening concert of its 2009-2010 season, “Apotheosis of the Dance,” was an exercise in transcending the traditionally defined eras of musical history. In an exuberant performance of symphonic works by Haydn and Beethoven Saturday at Berkeley’s First Congregational Church, this Baroque orchestra gave a quintessentially romantic performance of some mainstays of the classical repertory: passionate and full-bodied, with a strikingly lush sound and unrelenting energy.

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Opera Review
September 11, 2009

It’s a curious fact about Il trovatore, Verdi’s "magnificent demonstration of unprincipled melodrama," as Joseph Kerman called it, that this 1853 potboiler contains so much dramatically still water. No sooner does the curtain rise than a captain launches into a lengthy, action-stalling account of events that happened years before. And that’s not the only instance of extended exposition in Salvatore Cammarano’s creaky libretto, based on the Antonio Garcia Gutierrez play.

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Chamber Music Review
September 3, 2009

A small crowd gathers at the corner of Folsom and 23rd streets in San Francisco Thursday night, waiting to be let into Classical Revolution’s chamber music performance at the Red Poppy Art House. A man passing by recognizes the signs of an event and stops to ask someone in the crowd what’s going on. They talk at length, but no luck; the man leaves.

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Opera Review
September 8, 2009

Those of us who saw San Francisco Opera’s production of Puccini’s La Rondine in fall 2007 may think that we know the opera. We don’t. SFO’s Nicolas Joël production, which was reprised at the Metropolitan last season and simultaneously shown in hi-def in many theaters around the world, is not the final word on Puccini’s Johnny-come-lately masterpiece. For that we must turn to the scholarship of Marta Domingo, and Decca’s newly released DVD of her radically revised version of La Rondine for Washington National Opera.

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Opera Review
August 22, 2009

For those of us who love opera, the Merola Grand Finale is like a decisive first date. Some singers who parade their stuff before us may have the looks, the glamour, the ease, and the savoir faire for an enjoyable outing.

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Opera Review
August 18, 2009

The Seattle Opera’s Siegfried performed heroically on Wednesday, fighting the lingering effects of an illness more challenging than Fafner the dragon. Stig Andersen’s strategy worked. His holding back or “soldiering” through Siegfried Act 1’s sword-forging allowed him to end stronger in the finale scene, the awakening of Brünnhilde. Good thing he toughed it out.

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Chamber Music Review
August 14, 2009

“Feeling ... for the inevitable ... direction ... of my life!” Anyone who attended the “Music: Next Generation” concert at Old First Church on Friday night probably has these words etched in their mind. The quasi-minimalist, quasi-jazzy, quasi-rock, genre-defying mix of styles showed listeners the inevitable direction of music, as well: an explosion in many different directions.

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Opera Review
August 11, 2009

There’s a lot of life left in the old Ring myth, made abundantly apparent Sunday and Monday in the opening of Seattle Opera’s current rerunning of Wagner’s tetralogy. With Stephen Wadsworth’s imaginative direction, the first two operas, Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, were wholly engaging, his fresh interpretation showing how little need there is to transport the story into different times, cultures, or modern places, to try to make obvious strained metaphors of class or economic conflict or whatever.

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Festival Review
August 9, 2009

To be a Deadhead is to be a part of a unique, dedicated, and endlessly enthusiastic bunch.

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