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!
Classical guitarist David Tanenbaum presented an excellent recital of classical guitar, featured in a variety of chamber music settings, along with one spellbinding solo work on Saturday at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Concert Hall. A faculty member at the Conservatory, where he is chair of the collegiate Guitar Department, Tanenbaum was joined by fellow faculty members harpsichordist Corey Jamason and violinist Axel Strauss, as well as by steel string guitarist Peppino D'Agostino.
I confess that I had not heard of the Santa Cruz Chamber Orchestra until I learned of the concert with which it opened its third season on Saturday. But it was a honey of a program that I wouldn't have missed for anything. The result was warm and delicious: two cold and austere Northern string orchestra works by Jean Sibelius and Pēteris Vasks rendered rich and resonant in the reverberant acoustics of Santa Cruz' Holy Cross Church, plus the comforting familiarity of Dvořák's Serenade for Strings.
Judging from its performance at the Crowden Music Center in Berkeley on Sunday afternoon, the Afiara String Quartet faces a future both promising and challenging. This young ensemble of Canadian musicians, now in residence at San Francisco State University (as assistants to the more established Alexander Quartet), had just returned from a successful trip to the prestigious ARD chamber music competition in Munich, where it was awarded second prize.
Sometimes the act of artistic creation is more involving than the music itself. On the first stop of a coast-to-coast “"Remembrance Concert Tour” that will culminate in Carnegie Hall, soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian graced the stage of Herbst Theatre on Saturday night. Her San Francisco Performances recital celebrated the music of Armenia’s national composer, genocide victim Reverend Gomidas Vartabed (1869-1935).