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!


Choral REVIEW
 Old First Concerts  Superb Choral Debut by EUOUAE
August 13, 2010

On Friday, Old First Concerts presented the premier concert by EUOUAE, a new chorus whose membership is drawn from many of the Bay Area’s professional and semiprofessional choirs. Formed and directed by Steven Sven Olbash, EUOUAE performed the rarely heard Messe de Tournai, a musical milestone in that the 14th-century Mass is the first-known complete polyphonic (multivoiced) Mass collected in a single manuscript.

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Opera REVIEW
  Seattle Opera <em>Tristan und Isolde</em> Seattle Opera's Winning <em>Tristan und Isolde</em>
August 12, 2010

Were there the shadow of a doubt of the continuing and historic power of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde to capture and move its audiences, this summer’s Seattle Opera production dispelled it, two major shortcomings notwithstanding. The leading strength in Thursday’s fourth of seven performances was appropriately the orchestra.

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CD REVIEW
  Sondra Radvanovsky: <em>Verdi Arias</em> Radvanovsky Scales the Verdian Heights
August 10, 2010

Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky’s first solo recital helps clarify her position in the pantheon of great Verdi sopranos. In this recording by Delos in a Moscow studio, backed by San Francisco–born Constantine Orbelian and his Philharmonia of Russia, Radvanovsky holds forth in 10 drama-filled arias that showcase her innately dramatic voice that seems tailor-made for Verdi.

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Festival REVIEW
   Music@Menlo Illuminates City of Light Composers
August 7, 2010

[email protected] opened a broad umbrella for “La Ville Lumiere: Paris, 1920–28,” with composers as various as Milhaud, Prokofiev, Fauré, Copland, Antheil, Ravel, and Gershwin all gathered underneath. Variety, in both style and delivery, proved to be the prevailing spirit of Saturday’s musically sprawling program.

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Festival REVIEW
 Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music  Warmth and New Light at Cabrillo
August 7, 2010

It was that familiar feeling — the warm, almost small-town atmosphere in the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, the jokey introductions, the openness of the audience to the new sounds on hand. This could only be the Cabrillo Festival, where Music Director Marin Alsop once again led her players through unfamiliar and often exciting music during the festival’s opening weekend.

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Festival REVIEW
 Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music  Impressive Opening Night Audience Graces Cabrillo Festival
August 6, 2010

Sure, the Cabrillo Festival showcased a trio of distinctive, lauded — and breathing — composers on its opening night program. And yes, Music Director Marin Alsop and her band played their hearts out, as they usually do. But perhaps more impressive was the most neglected portion of the classical music communication channel: the audience.

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Opera REVIEW
 Merola Opera Program  Merola Program Pushes the <em>Elixir</em>
August 5, 2010

Want to know what can makes a bel canto opera performance great and what can neutralize it? Head to Cowell Theater, where select participants in this summer’s installment of San Francisco Opera’s famed Merola Opera Program hold forth in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore.

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CD REVIEW
  Il Fondamento: Telemann Ouvertüre <em>La Bourse</em> and Suites The Vast Telemannian Sea
August 3, 2010

One of the persistent pleasures in listening to whatever comes your way is that any random find may lead you to treasure. You pick up a stray gem, track its source, and suddenly uncover an entire vein of music as good. It was like that for me with Georg Philipp Telemann’s orchestral suites.

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CD REVIEW
  John Adams and the Los Angeles Philharmonic: The Dharma at Big Sur Josefowicz Download Un-dulls John Adams’ <em>Dharma</em>
August 3, 2010

If you head to iTunes, you can check out a great new recording of American compositions in the live DG Concerts series, for which John Adams conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in his own work. It used to be that new classical pieces, if they got recorded at all, took years to get on a CD. But things aren’t the way they used to be, thanks to the advent of the download.

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Festival REVIEW
 Music@Menlo  Tasty Viennese Treats From Music@Menlo
July 31, 2010

[email protected] continued its traversal of geographically inspired programs Saturday night with a focus on music from Vienna. Looking at the festival’s range of programs, this approach seems, as often as not, to raise a new banner under which the organization presents a fair amount of familiar repertoire.

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