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!


Opera REVIEW
 San Francisco Opera  A Miraculous Mattila <em>Makropulos</em>
November 10, 2010

The Makropulos Case, Janáček’s penultimate opera and the last production of the San Francisco Opera's fall season, is a roaring triumph in nearly all ways, starting with a stunning performance by Karita Mattila in her role debut as Marty.

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Chamber Music REVIEW
 San Francisco Taiko Dojo  Taiko Drumming a New Groove
November 7, 2010

The traditional Japanese art remains wedded to folk custom, but with a distinctive New World edge.

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Chamber Music REVIEW
 Cal Performances  Ensemble Zellig Slides In and Out of Music History
November 7, 2010

The French Ensemble Zellig focuses on innovation and experimentation and is fully at ease traveling through time and musical styles. In its West Coast debut on Sunday night it was a breath of fresh air.

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Chamber Music REVIEW
   Trios and Error
November 7, 2010

Twice, in Sunday’s all-star-name evening of string trio music at Davies Symphony Hall, the center held.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 Santa Rosa Symphony  Transcendent Liszt From Lisitsa
November 6, 2010

The Santa Rosa Symphony consists of about six dozen talented musicians, but during its performance Saturday, piano soloist Valentina Lisitsa stole the show. This 30-something, blonde, steely-fingered Ukrainian-American has technical virtuosity to easily match any pianist of her generation, and her musicality is out of this world.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra  Philharmonia Baroque Does Strange and Wonderful
November 5, 2010

In the hands of Philharmonia Baroque, expert interpreters and a seasoned period-instrument orchestra, it becomes apparent why 18th-century audiences were hungry for orchestral repertoire by the bucket load.

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Chamber Music REVIEW
 Old First Concerts  Chinese Mythmaking
November 5, 2010

When Melody of China and Asian Improv Arts teamed up for “Shanghai Stories,” a concert of jazz and Chinese classical and folk music, exoticism brought a lacquered newness to familiar pleasures.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 San Francisco Symphony  A <em>Carmina Burana</em> for the Record Books
November 3, 2010

You have probably heard Carl Orff's Carmina Burana before. If you're like me, you've heard it many times. Even so, I have never heard it the way the S.F. Symphony played it on Wednesday.

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CD REVIEW
  Eric Whitacre: Light & Gold From Light Into Gold: Whitacre Conducts Whitacre
November 2, 2010

This disc is a revelation. A revelation as much to initiates who think they know the beautiful, often ethereal choral music of Eric Whitacre, as to the millions who know him only from the YouTube Virtual Choir video of “Lux Aurumque,” and as to those who have yet to make his acquaintance.

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Opera REVIEW
 Urban Opera  The Urban Opera Witch Project
October 30, 2010

Henry Purcell never wrote an opera titled The Witch of Endor, so the question arose as to what, exactly, Urban Opera would be performing over Halloween weekend. The answer turned out to be something equal in musical brilliance and theatrical flair to the company’s inaugural production.

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