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  Joy Joins Bravura at the San Francisco Symphony
April 23, 2010

On paper, last week’s San Francisco Symphony programs looked like meat and potatoes repertory, but Friday evening’s performance in Davies Symphony Hall turned out to be more like servings of Salzburger Nockerl with a well-made Kir Royale to wash it down.

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CD REVIEW
  Manasse, Spohr: Clarinet Concertos Jon Manasse’s Remarkable Wind Playing
April 20, 2010

I’d been hearing rumors about the American clarinetist Jon Manasse for years, but at this, my first hearing, his new Harmonia Mundi release containing two concertos confirmed all those rumors. He’s a paragon of musicality.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
   Schleswig-Holstein’s Amazing Young Players
April 19, 2010

Conductor Christoph Eschenbach took over Davies Symphony Hall last Monday evening for a wildly successful concert of his Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, aided and abetted by pianist Lang Lang.

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Recital REVIEW
 Schwabacher Debut Recital Series  Leah Crocetto: Poised For Renown
April 18, 2010

Hard to believe, given the slew of awards she has received in the last 10 months, but soprano Leah Crocetto’s Schwabacher Debut Recital in Temple Emanu-el’s Meyer Sanctuary on Sunday afternoon was her first full-length classical recital anywhere. Despite her inexperience, the results were mind-boggling. Crocetto displayed a marvelous, at times magnificent, instrument that sounded right at home in most of her repertoire.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
  St. Louis Symphony St. Louis Symphony’s Distinctive Sound
April 18, 2010

Second nights are notoriously difficult to pull off, whether they’re in the theater or the concert hall. But David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony blazed through the second of two programs Sunday at Davies Symphony Hall, sustaining the excitement they had generated on the previous evening and elevating even the most familiar repertoire to the level of the sublime.

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Choral REVIEW
 Clerestory  Clerestory, After a Fashion
April 17, 2010

OK, I’ll admit it: I am addicted to the cable reality show Project Runway, a competition for fashion designers. The charm of the show lies in observing the designers’ genuine creativity. They are encouraged to be unique and innovative and to express their point of view as a designer while satisfying their clients and facing difficult design challenges.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
   Doctors Anatomic Fire Up the St. Louis Symphony
April 17, 2010

For Music Director David Robertson, it’s his rubber-man upper torso and windmill arm gestures. For violin soloist Gil Shaham, it’s a puckish crouch that enables instant flitting between positions within an inch of the conductor, the first-chair violinist, or the front edge of the stage.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 Oakland Symphony  New Vision For the Oakland East Bay Symphony
April 16, 2010

Michael Morgan long ago mastered the art of making each of his Oakland East Bay Symphony performances feel like a real event, not just the latest subscription program. For Friday night’s performance at the Paramount Theatre, the sense of occasion was brought about by two substantial pieces that treat their soloists as heroic protagonists, plus a world premiere that took some stylistic turns I didn’t expect on an evening of symphonic works.

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Chamber Music REVIEW
 San Francisco Performances  Kuss Quartett’s Fine, Well-Spun Line
April 15, 2010

Word of the Kuss Quartett preceded its actual appearance here. That’s pretty much how things do happen in the Bay Area with string quartets that haven’t actually been born here, but in the case of the Berlin-based Kuss Quartett it wasn’t “word” so much as whispers.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 San Francisco Chamber Orchestra San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and Trio Chaskinakuy  Uncloaking Classical With Folk
April 15, 2010

Thursday night’s concert at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts had all the markings of Bay Area fusion — a combination that works through pure juxtaposition, rather than synergy.

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