Classical Music Reviews

Every week, our professional critics attend concerts throughout the Bay Area to let you know what went well...and occasionally what didn't. Let their insights enrich your musical experiences, and feel free to share your own views!


Chamber Music REVIEW
  CMASH Chamber Music Chums Prove Artful
April 11, 2010

“This collaboration is what I’m in it for,” declared the clearly delighted soprano Ann Moss, with a sweeping gesture that took in her fellow performers and the audience at the Noe Valley Ministry on Sunday afternoon.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra  PBO’s Head-Spinning Love Triangle
April 10, 2010

To say that Nicholas McGegan has earned an international reputation for his George Frideric Handel interpretations is a bit of an understatement. Indeed, the world actually seems to follow him wherever he goes, so long as he is traipsing hand-in-hand with Handel. More about Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra »

Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
   Bobby McFerrin’s Spirited Call to Sing Out
April 10, 2010

Bobby McFerrin is one of the few certified, international crowd-pleasers alive today. His effect on San Francisco on Saturday night was no exception; the audience at the Nob Hill Masonic Center had to be warned by McFerrin himself, after almost two uninterrupted hours of singing, that the stagehand union reps would come in and start arresting people if folks didn’t start to leave.

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CD REVIEW
  Transformation Yuja Wang Satisfies With Transformation
April 6, 2010

The transformation in the title of Yuja Wang's latest recording does not refer to her playing. Just as in her recitals and appearances with orchestras — more than a hundred each year — she sounds powerful but never loud, brilliant without arrogance, and always, always serving the music first, eliminating all the superficial stuff that so often plagues pianists.

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Recital REVIEW
 San Francisco Performances  Auerbach-Weilerstein do Keys Aplenty
April 6, 2010

“It was somewhat excessive,” recalled Lera Auerbach onstage, understating the compulsion she felt in 1999 to keep composing preludes. Not satisfied after creating 24 of them for piano, one for every possible key signature (C major, A minor, and so on), she produced a second set of 24 for piano and violin. Far from exhausting her, this only whetted her appetite, so she wrote a third 24 for cello and piano.

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Chamber Music REVIEW
 Left Coast Chamber Ensemble  Left Coast Chamber Ensemble Embraces Wide-Ranging Visions
April 5, 2010

The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble organized its April 5 concert at the War Memorial’s Green Room around the idea of visual inspirations for music. The theme of “Audible Visions” led to a creative program, with all but one piece written in the past 25 years, and many kinds of musical thinking. What really mattered, of course, was what we heard, and that was marvelous.

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Recital REVIEW
 San Francisco Performances  Alice Coote: Song at Its Finest
April 2, 2010

Mezzo-soprano Alice Coote is a great artist. In an unforgettable San Francisco Performances recital Friday in Herbst Theatre, which also marked her local recital debut, Coote and her equally brilliant accompanist, Julius Drake, lavished on their audience an entire evening of songs in English, giving more attention to tone and color than I have heard in many a year.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 San Francisco Symphony  St. Petersburg Buddies Lay It On
April 1, 2010

Two up-and-coming talents, the Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski and Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko, took over last week’s San Francisco Symphony subscription concerts, and in the process sounded like major stars of the future.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 Berkeley Symphony   Berkeley Symphony Brings on the Brio
April 1, 2010

Beethoven cast an enormous shadow over the composers of his era, as well as those who followed; Brahms, who was particularly intimidated by the master, despaired of ever writing a symphony. “You have no idea,” he told a friend, “how the likes of us feel when we hear the tramp of a giant like him behind us.”

Intimidation eventually yielded to inspiration — which, according to Berkeley Symphony music director Joana Carneiro, was the theme of the orchestra’s concert Thursday evening at Zellerbach Hall.

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Chamber Music REVIEW
 Sanford Dole Ensemble  Sanford Dole Ensemble Doles Out Memories
March 28, 2010

The male and female voices of the Sanford Dole Ensemble chorus, 24 strong, had already made a distinct impression in a Palm Sunday concert at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church. Over a groundswell of somber strings in the first section of James MacMillan’s 1993 Seven Last Words From the Cross, the men burst forth with an urgent “Rex Israel.”

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