Monterey Peninsula College Orchestra — Spring Concert

Conductor David Dally and the MPC College Orchestra

The MPC Orchestra we heard last night at the MPC Theatre is a living testament to Conductor David Dally’s thirty odd years of successfully transforming a small Monday-Evening String Class into a thriving community orchestra that presents two major concerts every year. Yes, there are a few MPC students among the orchestra players, but there are also many distinguished local musicians from our community — among them are clarinetist Erica Horn, oboist Claire Horn, percussionist Greg Bullock, trombonist Suzanne Mudge, cellist (and former violinist) Vernon Brown, tuba player Jim Paoletti, and many others who regularly appear with other distinguished orchestra ensembles during the concert year.

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Archived in these categories: Classical Era, Concerto, Monterey Peninsula College, Orchestral, Piano, Romantic Era


Monterey Symphony ends its 2018-2019 Season

Guest artist: pianist Marcos Madrigal

Conductor Max Bragado-Darman led the Monterey Symphony in a concert of three popular masterpieces last night at Sunset Center in Carmel, and, not surprisingly, it was a great success with each work winning a rousing standing ovation. 2019-2020 will be the last season for retiring conductor Bragado-Darman, and he will be missed.

The concert began with one of Richard Wagner’s masterpieces, the Overture to his opera The Flying Dutchman. The tale of a cursed ship that can never make port and is doomed to wander the seas forever is effectively set to music by Wagner and continues to fascinate audiences today as much as it did at its premiere in Dresden in 1843. Last night the Monterey Symphony wowed us with its powerful performance that featured a full compliment of strings, woodwinds, brass, trombones, bassoons, harp and percussion, plus the strong direction from Bragado-Darman.

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Archived in these categories: Classical Era, Concerto, Monterey Symphony, Piano, Romantic Era


Brahms in Rome

A spectacular all-Brahms concert in Rome with pianist Yefim Bronfman and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia conducted by Daniele Gatti offered the Piano Concerto No. 2 and Symphony No. 2 at the Sala Santa Cecilia on May 5. Arriving by bus in a torrential rainstorm, it nevertheless was exciting to see the Auditorium at the famed Parco della Musica, a huge modern building that contains several concert venues north of the city center.

Of interest to this retired orchestra player was the concert etiquette of the orchestra. Unlike symphony orchestras in the United States, here the players do not enter the stage early to tune and warm up. There is no pre-concert noodling in front of the entering public as in the USA. At four minutes after the announced concert time the players file on stage to continuous applause. They take their seats and the concertmaster begins the formal tuning process.

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Archived in these categories: Cello, Concerto, Orchestral, Piano, Romantic Era


Pianist Misuzu Tanaka performs for Aptos Keyboard Series

Misuzu Tanaka

Yesterday afternoon we had the distinct pleasure of hearing pianist Misuzu Tanaka in a brilliant recital at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist in Aptos. This event was presented jointly by St. John’s and the Aptos Keyboard Series, a series founded by composer-pianist Josef Sekon. Sekon has the knack of finding interesting young artists and persuading them to come and perform for intimate audiences on the series’ new Kawai 7’6” grand piano, an instrument that made its debut only a few months earlier.

Juilliard trained Tanaka had chosen a program that contained two seldom heard works by Leoš Janáček, and we are the richer for having heard them on this occasion. She performed two movements from Janáček’s Sonata No. 1 (1905), which turned out to be attractive and accessible, plus they sounded quite idiomatic for the piano. Tanaka caressed the opening motifs that established the tonal center of e-flat minor and held our attention throughout the work’s lovely melodic development tinged with moments of chromaticism. Not being familiar with traditional folk melodies from Bohemia, I was unable to relate to the specific melodic and folklore elements that inspired this work, but suffice it to say that Tanaka’s lovely sound and skill in shaping melodic elements captured our attention and held us spellbound throughout. 

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


The Jeweled Style — The Tetzlaff Piano Trio in Concert

  
                                                                                           

Tetzlaff Piano Trio

There was thunderous applause at the end of the April 27 concert by the Tetzlaff Piano Trio at Herbst Theatre presented by San Francisco Performances. In response to the standing ovation the three musicians (violinist Christian Tetzlaff, cellist Tanja Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt) played one encore – the third Dumka from Dvořák’s Piano Trio in E Minor, Op. 90. This piece was performed in protest against the earlier-in-the-day shooting at a synagogue in California and “to spread love and hope in the world.” The galvanized adulation of the audience came as a direct result of a previously performed work on the program by Dvořák, his 1882 Piano Trio in F Minor, Op. 65. This dark composition, a result of the composer’s reaction to his mother’s passing and the deep influence of the impassioned side of Johannes Brahms, made up the second half of the program, which had begun with Mozart’s 1786 Piano Trio in B-flat Major, K. 502 and the 1943 Shostakovich Piano Trio in E Minor, Op. 67.     

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Archived in these categories: Classical Era, Piano trio, Romantic Era