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!
The Daughter of the Regiment (La Fille du Régiment) by Gaetano Donizetti is about singing as a direct route to the hearts both of characters and audiences. The opera’s apparent naiveté and, at times, blatant absurdity belie its perfection. In it the mature master composer of some 52 prior operas hides his own virtuosity in order allow his singers to reveal truth of feeling.More about San Francisco Opera »
The music of this CD/DVD is easier on the ear than the concept is easy on the mind. But that doesn’t obviate the importance of, and the potential pleasure in, embracing the full intent of the creator, Sufjan Stevens. East Coasters may recognize in the title the source of inspiration: It’s the unsightly and often dysfunctional but vital Brooklyn Queens Expressway, which traverses a couple of New York City’s boroughs, one of them the site of the institution that commissioned and premiered this project, the Brooklyn Academy of Music.More »
Four years have passed since ex–San Francisco Symphony Principal Violist Geraldine Walther became the newest member of the Takács Quartet, and by now the ensemble sounds as though it’s been together forever. In the first of this season’s two Cal Performances recitals (happily, the two-concert-a-year rhythm looks to be an established pattern), there were a few untidy moments. But the concert, given Sunday at Berkeley’s Hertz Hall, saw the quartet preserving and even intensifying that near-miraculous balance of unanimity and individuality that has been its hallmark since Walther joined it in 2005.More about Cal Performances »
Sunday afternoon’s inaugural performance at the sumptuous new Center for the Performing Arts at Menlo-Atherton opened both eyes and ears. The performers were pianist Wu Han and cellist David Finckel, the artistic directors of Music@Menlo, along with a colleague, the clarinetist Anthony McGill of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; the composers were Beethoven and Brahms.More »
After last month’s impressive performances of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra returned to its 17th-century roots over the weekend with a program of short works, led by guest violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch.More about Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra »
As I stood in the deserted Civic Center station with only three others from the full house that had vociferously cheered the Saturday concert of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and its 28-year-old new music-director, Gustavo Dudamel, I reflected on L.A.’s love for the automobile. Is Dudamel the city’s new Ferrari, or is he just the winning float in the Rose Bowl parade, bestowed with colorful petals and dancing girls who obscure the true vehicle underneath, be it Corvette, Scion, or Edsel?More »
The Mid-Peninsula is home to a number of dedicated amateur orchestras. Some local patrons felt there was, nevertheless, room for a chamber orchestra made up of local professionals — and now there is one. The St. Peter’s Chamber Orchestra, named for its hall, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Redwood City, gave its first concert Saturday. Artistic Director Paul Schrage conducted the performance. On the program were two classical period symphonies: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op.More about St. Peter's Chamber Orchestra »
In another concert series geared toward social justice, the ArtisVocal Ensemble presented an evening of “Kirkenabendmusik” at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley on Friday. The program of Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, and Mendelssohn aimed to invoke the solemnity of a Vespers liturgy in a 19th century Viennese church.More about Artists Vocal Ensemble (AVE) »
Applause broke out at unexpected times Wednesday evening in Davies Symphony Hall as guest conductor David Robertson wowed the San Francisco Symphony audience. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he had virtuoso pianist Yefim Bronfman as his soloist for a terrific program.More about San Francisco Symphony »
If you are looking for a gift for someone beginning their odyssey into classical music, you could do worse than send them the latest DGG sampler release of repertoire standards spiced with two dances by the Mexican composer Arturo Márquez.
Why? The conductor is Gustavo Dudamel, product of Venezuela’s world-famous El Sistema who has just taken over the helm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.More »