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!


Festival REVIEW
 Carmel Bach Festival  Schubert and Mozart Supplant Bach in Carmel
July 22, 2009

In two programs Wednesday at the Carmel Bach Festival, Schubert and Mozart came to the fore. In the first concert, an afternoon performance at the Church of the Wayfarer in downtown Carmel, baritone Sanford Sylvan and fortepianist David Breitman presented a program of Schubertiana, consisting of three lieder and two impromptus for piano.

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CD REVIEW
  John Adams <em>Doctor Atomic Symphony</em> CD <em>Doctor Atomic</em>: 'Except You Enthrall Me ...'
July 21, 2009
John Adams’ Doctor Atomic Symphony is an orchestral reduction, the soundtrack in a sense of his 2005 opera.  The work presents episodes from the opera, with three movements titled “The Laboratory,” “Panic,” and “Trinity.” More »
Chamber Music REVIEW
 sfSoundSeries & sfSoundGroup  Tasty Feast From sfSound
July 19, 2009

The contemporary chamber music concert that I attended Sunday evening was refreshingly free of gimmickry. For example, it took place in the ODC Dance Commons in San Francisco’s Mission District: a humble, but also accommodating, performance space. The program, by sfSound, also did not boast any flashy title or unifying theme. Nor was it accompanied by hollow reassurances about contemporary music’s being made palatable to the public.

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Festival REVIEW
   Sunstruck at Festival del Sole
July 19, 2009

With its feast-for-the-senses blend of performance, art, and culinary events, Festival del Sole has become an attractive summer destination for music lovers throughout the Bay Area and beyond. The annual Napa Valley extravaganza, a spinoff of Italy’s Tuscan Sun festival, has also turned out to be a great place to experience the work of up-and-coming conductors.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra REVIEW
 San Francisco Symphony  San Frantastic Symphony
July 18, 2009

“What have you been smoking?” you say. But I saw the following with my own eyes at last Saturday’s San Francisco Symphony concert:

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Festival REVIEW
 Carmel Bach Festival  Carmel Bach, Trotting Through Paradise
July 17, 2009

The search for a new Carmel Bach Festival music director is already under way, even while Bruno Weil has one last Festival to lead in 2010. One local wag lately suggested in a letter to the Monterey County Herald that Weil might give serious thought to a mostly-Bach program next year.

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Opera REVIEW
 Midsummer Mozart Festival  Mozart's Many Midsummer Charms
July 17, 2009

Levelheaded dedication flashed on Friday evening at the San Francisco Conservatory’s concert hall, as conductor George Cleve opened this season’s Midsummer Mozart Festival with a display of brilliance. If anything, it all went to prove how much variety Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart produced in his all-too-short lifetime.

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Chamber Music REVIEW
 Midsummer Mozart Festival Noontime Concerts Ticklin' the Palate at Old St. Mary's
July 16, 2009

Before opening the annual Midsummer Mozart Festival, there’s a tradition that musicians from the festival orchestra get together for smaller chamber music concerts of the great composer’s music. Because the possibilities are nearly infinite as regards instrumentation, anything can turn up as they preach to the faithful.

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CD REVIEW
  Thomas Adès <em>The Tempest</em> A Tempest of Torments
July 14, 2009

Chromatic gales, emotion-churning dissonances, and vocal writing so torturous it makes you wonder whether the all-star cast is composed of masochists: Such is the score for Thomas Adès’ three-act opera, The Tempest. Commissioned by the Royal Opera Covent Garden, where it was premiered in February 2004 under the then-32-year-old British composer’s baton, the eerie opera has since been performed in Strasburg, Copenhagen, and Santa Fe.

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Opera REVIEW
 Festival Opera  Festival Opera's Triumphant Turandot
July 11, 2009

Everything about Puccini’s opera Turandot is big: big orchestra, big voices, big chorus, enormous sets, and massive emotions. So it is daring for a company the size of Festival Opera to undertake such a giant. But no need to worry, for this is a triumphant Turandot.

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