POETIC, BUT NOT REALLY POE-ETIC

POETIC, BUT NOT REALLY POE-ETIC

ROHNERT PARK, CA—To catch important musical works, it can take an hour’s drive out of an arts capital to reach them. Credit the Santa Rosa Symphony and amalgamated choruses for bringing out that very eloquent but little-known choral symphony of Sergei Rachmaninoff, “The Bells,” given in the concerts of Dec. 3-5 here. The composer called it his number one achievement. Coming from his palette in 1913, the 35-minute piece contains some of Rachmaninoff’s most skillful musical effects. If you only know…

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BERLINERS GO VIENNESE IN SAN FRANCISCO

BERLINERS GO VIENNESE IN SAN FRANCISCO

Both sides of the Berlin maestro Simon Rattle were evident and resplendent in the tour concert given on Thanksgiving eve: The formalist/modernist in the Second Vienna School, and the sensual interpreter of Brahms’ Second Symphony—two realms of music many miles apart, though all heavily weighted to Austria. The impact was quite overwhelming, with wild audience huzzahs at each conclusion. Half the program went over to Schoenberg, Webern and Berg, a thicket of often rebellious, impenetrable music that rewrote almost everything…

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SHAKE AND WAKE THE PATRONS (The L.A. Philharmonic)

SHAKE AND WAKE THE PATRONS (The L.A. Philharmonic)

On Halloween (Oct. 31) the Los Angeles Philharmonic knocked the socks off almost every one at Davies Hall with Tchaikovsky’s familiar Symphony No. 4, playing it like a true virtuoso orchestra and sounding like a European ensemble. Music Director Gustavo Dudamel’s melding with this group is total. And, in today’s era of strict tempos, he stretches tempi in heart-warming ritards and rubatos that were commonplace till about a century ago. He has pillowy-soft descents from brassy heights into wind-and-string valleys….

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ETERNAL LIFE IS NOT UTOPIA

ETERNAL LIFE IS NOT UTOPIA

Can you shape a viable opera scenario out of law suits and legal offices? Janacek’s answer was yes, if you thrust into the middle of the muddle a whirlwind femme fatale powering the drama and driving all the men mad as well. Janacek’s improbable 1926 opera “The Makropulos Case” ties in an intriguing fable: Because of a longevity potion, the seemingly youthful lady is now 337 years old, remembering intimate details about relationships and documents established by people long since…

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A DYNAMO OF A CELLIST

A DYNAMO OF A CELLIST

Alisa Weilerstein Shares Stage with Heras-Casado Stemming from a distinguished musical family, Alisa Weilerstein seems determined to be the dynamo of the younger performing generation. Last week back east she squeezed two recitals into one, playing all six unaccompanied Bach suites for cello in one intensive three-hour swoop, a feat that could leave both audience and performer in a sweat-drenched tingle. With the San Francisco Symphony in a more subdued mode, she played the Schumann cello Concerto in A Minor…

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STRAVINSKY REVISITED IN BERKELEY

STRAVINSKY REVISITED IN BERKELEY

BERKELEY—Esa-Pekka Salonen brought his Philharmonia Orchestra from London to Zellerbach Hall to do a two-program tribute to Stravinsky, recalling the 1968 opening ceremonies of the same site. The 2,000-seat hall is a major site, filling a big yawning void at the University of California for nearly half a century. The Londoners are supreme performers. As one colleague noted after “The Rite of Spring,” the muted horns played so softly, so subtly, it was as if they were offstage. Overall however,…

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A FLOOD OF INSPIRED STRAVINSKY

A FLOOD OF INSPIRED STRAVINSKY

As London’s Philharmonia Plays Berkeley BERKELEY—Esa-Pekka Salonen brought his Philharmonia Orchestra from London to Zellerbach Hall to do a two-program tribute to Stravinsky, recalling the 1968 opening ceremonies of the same site. The 2,525-seat hall is a major site, filling a big yawning void at the University of California for nearly half a century. The Londoners are supreme performers. As one colleague noted after “The Rite of Spring,” the muted horns played so softly, so subtly, it was as if…

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REVIVAL OF AN ANCIENT TALE IN DANCE AND SONG

REVIVAL OF AN ANCIENT TALE IN DANCE AND SONG

Via Mark Morris’ Surprising Middle Eastern Foray BERKELEY—Over the past four decades in  Iran, dancing has been either prohibited or frowned upon by the governing powers. In dramatizing a tragedy in timeless Persian song and dance, Mark Morris and his dance group are injecting new life into an endangered species from halfway around the world. In his world premiere here, Morris co-created a 50-minute-long Persian-Azerbaijani work of song, music and dance, “Layla and Majnun,” based on one of the oldest…

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SMUIN’S DANCES LIVE ON

SMUIN’S DANCES LIVE ON

His ‘Stabat Mater’ Eloquently Marks the 9/11 Anniversary By Paul Hertelendy  artssf.com, the independent observer of San Francisco Bay Area music and dance  Week of Sept. 25-Oct. 2 , 2016 Vol. 19, No. 4 WALNUT CREEK, CA—It never fails–election year brings out inconsistencies galore. For instance, the Smuin Ballet, a Bay Area staple for more than 20 years, has now renamed itself the Smuin Contemporary American Ballet. And the first work on its fall season is choreographed by——an Australian, Stanton…

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CHANTICLEER FALLS IN LOVE

CHANTICLEER FALLS IN LOVE

Elite Men’s Chorus Dazzles in ‘Secret Heart’ Program By D. Rane Danubian artssf.com, the independent observer of San Francisco Bay Area music and dance  Week of Sept. 19-26,  2016 Vol. 19, No. 3 SANTA CLARA—The virtuoso singers of Chanticleer were ardently declaring their love for all parties concerned. Their “Secret Heart” program from many sources, languages and centuries will whisk them around Northern California with that heart-to-heart musical message. The 12 are as versatile as ever, performing classical men’s chorus…

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