I Cantori di Carmel at the Mission

On Sunday, December 7 we had a dark and stormy night with the wind howling and the rain pouring a rhythm of it’s own…..oh wait….that’s another story line. Although dark and stormy, the warmth of the Carmel Mission Basilica and the sounds of I Cantori di Carmel along with Monterey County Pops Brass warmed the hearts and spirits of all who ventured to hear this wondrous program. The chorus under the direction of Cyril Deaconoff along with the brass under the direction of Carl Christensen brightened the evening with the familiar of the season along with original works by local composers.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Choral, I Cantori


Bay Area Steinway Series — Pianist Albert Cano Smit

Albert Cano Smit

Despite the venue challenges the Bay Area Steinway Series has experienced, it continues to present many of the world’s most impressive keyboard artists as witnessed by the December 8 performance by Albert Cano Smit at the West Valley College in Saratoga. Although Swiss-born Albert Cano Smit won his first international competition at age 14 , it was his winning First Prize in the 2017 Naumburg Competition that sent up the red flag of special attention.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Baroque, Romantic Era


Easy Panache: Symphony Silicon Valley Concert

Soloist Nareh Arghamanyan

For those who braved the rainy weather on Saturday, December 8, the concert at the California Theatre in San Jose by Symphony Silicon Valley with Pietro Rizzo conducting proved most auspicious. Assisted by Armenian piano virtuoso Nareh Arghamanyan in the Piano Concerto in D-flat Major by Aram Khachaturian, all participants generated a colossal excitement in the course of this percussive, nationalist testament to the spirit of the Caucasus. Complementing the vivid colors of the 1936 Khachaturian Concerto, we had Rizzi’s conducting works by Glinka and Brahms that demonstrated a refined and sensitive approach to familiar staples that had the power to sound refreshed in their easy panache and suave execution.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Orchestral, Romantic Era


Chamber Music Monterey Bay — Inscape: A Mixed Ensemble

As the air turns crisp and the leaves rustle as they fall to the sidewalk, I tend to notice music around me more often. Hardly a minute goes by in public that music is not offered for your listening pleasure. Our ears are full. Modern music from the 20th and 21st Century is challenging at times. Modern life is challenging at times. This listener does not begrudge a Classical Music fan for taking a “bye” on a concert when life has just been too challenging. Life happens. Music happens. Sometimes one just wants the music to speak to one’s heart. No brain stretching harmonies, no new instruments, no clash of instrumental techniques; just music to stir the ear and the mind and of course, the heart. No in-depth conversations of differences, just the chance to hear old friends. When the promotional Press Release mentions that a group “is pushing the boundaries of classical music” one may need to pause and reframe your ears and mind before entering the concert hall. This listener has often been in that “just give me easy listening” frame of mind. Last night, I was ready for some new experiences; a concert of all modern stuff.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Chamber Music Monterey Bay


Intimate Audacities: Pianist Changyong Shin in Recital

Changyong Shin

A modest but well-pleased audience hailed pianist Changyong Shin as he concluded his Sunday, November 17 recital for Steinway Society – The Bay Area at the Independence High School auditorium in San Jose. Responding with one encore, Chopin’s Grande valse brillante in E-flat Major, Op. 18, rendered flawlessly, Shin more than confirmed his prowess in music that demands audacity, dexterity, and poetry by such diverse personalities as Beethoven, Chopin, Ravel, and Granados. Shin seems to embody that “smart performer of smart music,” to paraphrase Ned Rorem — that musician whose mind proves as agile as his gifted fingers. The two large works on the program, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109, and Ravel’s daunting Gaspard de la nuit, each required the careful balance of deft articulation and intellectual acumen to bring off manifestation of power and lyric intimacy at the same time.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Classical Era, Piano, Romantic Era