Lean and Lyrical – A Recital by James Ehnes

Sporting his abundantly resonant 1715 “Marsick” Stradivarius, violinist James Ehnes, with the keyboard collaboration of Orion Weiss, presented a fine display of lyricism and virtuosity in his program for Chamber Music San Francisco at the JCC Palo Alto, Monday, February 12. Often labeled “the Heifetz of today,” Mr. Ehnes intoned the music of Beethoven, Poulenc, and Richard Strauss less with the burnished Heifetz wizardry than with the lean, elegantly virile style of Heifetz’s most apt and commercially successful protégé, Erick Friedman.  Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Classical Era, Violin

Pianist Mauro Bertoli and Violinist Lucia Luque in Recital

Lucia Luque & Mauro Bertoli

Performing together for the first time in California, right here in Santa Cruz at Peace United Church on January 21st to continue the 33rd season of the Distinguished Artists Concert and Lecture Series founded by Director John Orlando, was the delightful youngish duo of Italian-trained Argentinian violinist Lucia Luque and Italo-Canadian pianist Mauro Bertoli, a resident of Ottawa since 2009, who had made a CD back in 2010 after meeting during events that included Luque’s winning prizes for her artistry in Turn, Naples and Verona: and Bertoli being awarded not only the first Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Youth Prize, but also the Giuseppi Sinopoli Award presented personally by the president of the Italian Republic. Though the duo performed each work impeccably and to hearty applause from the full house, to these ancient ears the pianist at the big Yamaha CFX did not over all quite match the intensity of the violinist on her Italian-made 1920 Enrico Marchetti instrument. Read full story

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

A Chanticleer Christmas at the Carmel Mission

Not surprisingly, since “Chanticleer” was the rooster in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales,” the choir with the same moniker is no different — bright and colorful. A sense of awe and wonder took over the audience as the choir entered the Carmel Mission Basilica from the rear of the sanctuary. All the lights had been turned off as the choir entered bearing candles and singing the Gregorian Chant, Christe redemptor omnium.

As the lights were turned back on and the music continued, the once hushed audience was filled with murmurs – comments on the sounds of the voices emanating from the all-male choir. One of the unique features of this choir is the presence of countertenors, a voice partly higher than a tenor and equivalent to a female contralto or soprano. Looks of confusion turned to gentle smiles amongst the audience, and the confidence of the choir took over to a sense of serene happiness. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Cantus, Choral

Hartnell Community Choir at All Saints’ Church

Robin McKee Williams

Church of the Wayfarer in Carmel was the acoustically lovely and festively dressed setting for the Hartnell Community Choir December 17 Concert. For small groups this venue has the ability to accent and amplify a special richness of sound. Although not one of the larger groups on the Monterey Peninsula, this group of singers under the direction of Robin McKee Williams is certainly one of the most dedicated in its pursuit of performing great choral repertoire. Ambitious choral works included in the afternoon’s program were Ralph Vaughan Williams Sancta Civitas, and Kim Andre Arnesen’s Requiem. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, All Saints' Church, Baroque, Choral

MPC Concert Band gives us an evening with Gershwin

Pianist Lucy Faridany & Conductor John Anderson

A capacity audience turned out to hear the MPC Concert Band in its Gershwin concert last night in MPC’s Theater, and it was a supercharged audience that tended to linger around after the concert was over. This was a larger than life band — I mean five tubas, five trombones, four trumpets, and more versions of a clarinet than I even knew existed, and everybody played their hearts out.

Over the years Conductor John Anderson has built what amounts to a community band with a span of ages from age 16 to 70’s plus  (actually I think I saw in the ensemble on stage one man in his eighties). We can assume that for enthusiastic professional and amateur jazz players an opportunity to perform in the MPC Concert Band under the direction of veteran John Anderson ranks up there with the more important events in their lives. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Concerto, Jazz, Monterey Peninsula College, Piano