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!
History reserves an important place for composers who have left a monumental legacy. Bach’s cantata cycles and Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelungs are good examples. Among Renaissance composers, both William Byrd and Heinrich Isaac fit that bill well.More »
Lucas Meachem sauntered onto the stage of Temple Emanu-El's Martin Meyer Sanctuary on Sunday as though walkin' into the High G Saloon. Swinging open wide the doors that separated him from everyone seated in the joint, he declared, "I'm Lucas. I'm from North Carolina, and I'm going to be singing some great songs tonight. I know you don't expect someone to start a recital like this, but I'm going to do what I can to change that …"
You can say that again.
Perhaps it's just me, but I possess a stereotypical image of a brass quintet. It is an image of gray-haired men who chiefly play Renaissance and Baroque music, with the occasional Christmas album thrown into the mix to shake things up a bit.
Regardless of whether my image might ring true for others, the Meridian Arts Ensemble certainly does not fit that stereotype. For starters, this New York-based ensemble is actually a sextet: a brass quintet with an added percussionist. It performed Sunday at Dinkelspiel Auditorium as part of the Stanford Lively Arts concert series.
To most Americans, Christopher Columbus is known as the "discoverer" of our part of the world. Less commonly understood is the land from which he came, an environment rich in culture but beset by violence and religious intolerance, a legacy that Columbus' arrival in the Americas would perpetuate.
The complex strains of Spain's multicultural heritage formed the backdrop to Hespèrion XXI's stunning presentation Saturday at Berkeley's First Congregational Church, under the auspices of Cal Performances.
West Bay Opera's current production of Così fan tutte stands tall on the twin ramparts of Barbara Day Turner's rock-solid conducting of a fair-to-middling orchestra, and Douglas Nagel's vital, if risky, staging. Combined, they made for fine musical theater, if not quite dramma per musica.
It's a good thing that Mozart's (or rather librettist Lorenzo da Ponte's) oversimplified tale of deceptive and cheating courtship can play either as opera, operetta, or musical. On the one hand, the inconsistency of young lovers can be seen as an up-tempo sitcom.
The Tokyo String Quartet's personality has shifted over time, but through the ensemble's nearly 40 years of existence its technical panache and its fondness for minutely thought-out interpretation have remained in consistently high repute.More »
Ever since Beethoven raised the genre of symphony to the pinnacle of achievement in Western art music, there have been composers whose efforts to write symphonies have been left incomplete. Something about the task was just too daunting for them.More »
At opposite sides of the Bay over the weekend, two productions of Giselle highlighted two ballerinas who are, in effect, at opposite ends of their careers. Nina Ananiashvili, artistic director of the State Ballet of Georgia and in her 40s, danced the title role Saturday night during the troupe's Cal Performances engagement at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall.More »