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!

 California Bach Society  Cal Bach’s Engaging <em>St. John Passion</em>
May 2, 2010

Bach’s great Passion According to Saint John was given eloquent voice by the California Bach Society Sunday afternoon at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley. The Passion — the story of the end of Jesus’ life — is operatic, in the sense of combining narrative and commentary.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 St. Peter's Chamber Orchestra  St. Peter’s Chamber Orchestra Doubles Your Pleasure
May 1, 2010

The St. Peter’s Chamber Orchestra finished off its first season on Saturday, at its namesake church in Redwood City, by highlighting four of its own players as soloists in two rare double concertos, and matching those with two brief standards of the orchestral repertory.

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 San Francisco Ballet  The San Francisco Ballet’s Radiant Juliet
May 1, 2010

For general ballet-goers, the run of Romeo and Juliet that opened Saturday and continues through this week is the crowning jewel of San Francisco Ballet’s 2010 season, which takes over the War Memorial Opera House every January through May.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
   Eschenbach Burns Through Zemlinsky and Schumann Symphonies
May 1, 2010

Guest conductor Christoph Eschenbach lit flames in two symphonies with the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Hall on Saturday evening. Whether he was conducting a familiar warhorse or a rarity Eschenbach made them sear.

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Recital REVIEW
 San Francisco Performances  Master Guitarist Manuel Barrueco Spotlights Two Protégés
April 29, 2010

Manuel Barrueco gave a panoramic view of the history and future of the classical guitar in the 20th and 21st centuries in a marvelous recital Thursday at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre.

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  Matthias Goerne & Ingo Metzmacher: Schubert <em>Heliopolis</em> Vocal Artistry Tailor-Made for Schubert
April 27, 2010

Baritone Matthias Goerne, one of the few truly great lieder singers of our age, has now released four volumes of Harmonia Mundi’s ongoing Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition.

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Modern Classical REVIEW
 San Francisco Contemporary Music Players  Free Play by the S.F. Contemporary Music Players
April 26, 2010

On Monday night, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players used French Composer Philippe Hurel’s words — "his own space of freedom" — for the theme of a program featuring four pieces that variously relate to the idea of finding free space.

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Recital REVIEW
   Emmanuel Ax Mounts the Battlements With Two Giants
April 25, 2010

As every classical music lover knows by now, this is a big anniversary year for Chopin and Schumann. Still, somehow we are never quite prepared to fully comprehend their vast achievements as composers for the piano. Emanuel Ax’s recital at Davies Symphony Hall Sunday showed how difficult it is to reconcile these two giants of the Romantic period.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 Redwood Symphony  Rustling Among the Redwoods
April 24, 2010

Eric Kujawsky, music director of the Redwood Symphony, likes sometimes to lead his volunteer musicians into the thorny thickets of Eastern European modernism. This time, on Saturday at the Cañada College Theatre in Redwood City, nobody got seriously lost.

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Recital REVIEW
 Chamber Music San Francisco  Simone Dinnerstein’s Eclectic Variations
April 24, 2010

Ranging from Bach to Copland to Webern, pianist Simone Dinnerstein’s April 24 recital at Herbst Theatre looked at first glance like a model of eclecticism. In fact, it was a tightly and cannily structured program, with variations as the organizing principle.

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