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 Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 San Francisco Symphony  A Solo Spotlight From S.F. Symphony
October 7, 2010

The San Francisco Symphony has been placing its musicians in the solo spotlight this fall, and the results have been good enough to make you wonder if we couldn’t do without high-priced imports more often.

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CD REVIEW
  Handel and Croft: <em>Peace of Utrecht</em> A Glorious Handel Te Deum From the Netherlands
October 5, 2010

The city of Utrecht, Netherlands, is gearing up for a huge celebration in 2013 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht. The city and province of Utrecht is investing in a party that will rival the pan-European celebrations that followed the actual Treaty’s signing. One of the first anticipatory fruits of all this excitement is the Netherlands Bach Society’s recording of music written by Handel and William Croft.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 San Jose Chamber Music Society  Restful Exoticism From the Shanghai Quartet
October 3, 2010

Sunday night’s concert by the Shanghai Quartet at Le Petit Trianon in San José opened the 25th season of the San José Chamber Music Society. It also served as the Society’s contribution to Shanghai Celebration 2010, a Bay Area–wide, yearlong festival commemorating San Francisco’s sister-city relationship with the Chinese city.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 San Francisco Symphony  Rhapsody, in Spades, by the San Francisco Symphony
October 2, 2010

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony have a long history of successful and seemingly idiomatic performances of French music, and thus Saturday’s program, advertised as “French Classics,” looked both appealing and promising.

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Dance REVIEW
 Cal Performances Mark Morris Dance Group The Humane Virtuosity of Mark Morris
October 1, 2010

Last week marked the first return of the Mark Morris Dance Group to UC Berkeley since Robert Cole’s retirement and Matías Tarnopolsky’s start as director of Cal Performances; Friday at Zellerbach Hall, it was good to see that not much has changed. The choreographer best known for illuminating complex scores and the dancers known for making virtuosity out of unaffected humanity were both doing just that — yet, in unexpected ways, Morris may have raised the bar.

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CD REVIEW
  Vittorio Grigolo: The Italian Tenor One Hot Meal of a Tenor
September 30, 2010

It's not just his face and body that are hot. Vittorio Grigolo is the real thing, an Italian tenor with a beautiful voice, ringing high C,  and genuine feel for the music. This is the recital we've been waiting for.

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CD REVIEW
  Immeasurable Light Wu Man's Piercing Pipa Rediscoveries
September 28, 2010

Immeasurable Light, the new CD from Chinese pipa master Wu Man, virtually wallops you over the head with its first track, Jacob Garchik’s arrangement of The Round Sun and Crescent Moon in the Sky. Part of the repertoire of the Zhang Family Band, it is as raucous as it is joyous.

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Chamber Music REVIEW
 Other Minds  Dane Rudhyar: Other Minds’ Find
September 27, 2010

Does the personality of a composer matter? Will knowing more about the life of a composer enhance our experience of his or her music? “You bet!” is Other Minds’ answer, as judged from its Sept. 27 combo of exhibit, discussion, and performance that brought the remarkable Dane Rudhyar (1895-1985) back to life.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 Redwood Symphony  Storm and Sunshine in the Redwoods
September 25, 2010

The Redwood Symphony celebrated its 25th anniversary on Saturday, opening its season with a potpourri of pleasing music at Cañada College in Redwood City. Eric Kujawsky, who founded the orchestra and has been its music director for all 25 years, conducted the occasion.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra  Mozart Soundgarden From Philharmonia Baroque
September 25, 2010

If ever there were a composer whose music justified the use of old instruments, it is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But, modern pianists and orchestras frequently approach Wolfie’s music as if they’ve got kid gloves on. This was most certainly not the case when Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra teamed with fortepianist Robert Levin Saturday to present an all-Mozart program at Berkeley’s First Congregational Church.

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