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So far Rachel Cohen has created 16 blog entries.

REVIEW: Conductor Nicholas McGegan Leads a Triumphal Orchestral Finale to La Jolla SummerFest 2019

The San Diego Story
Ken Herman
August 25, 2019

Following longstanding tradition, the final La Jolla SummerFest program is a chamber orchestra concert. Music Director Inon Barnatan not only upheld the tradition but—as is his wont—improved upon it. For Friday’s SummerFest finale at The Conrad, Barnatan invited 18th-century period music specialist Nicholas McGegan to conduct the orchestra in the usual suspects—Bach, Vivaldi, and Mozart—but he spliced edgy contemporary works by Andrew Norman and Ellen Taafe Zwilich into the mix.

Conducting the program’s Baroque works from the harpsichord, McGegan exhibited the zeal and insight into this repertory that has made his San Francisco-based Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra internationally celebrated. Not surprisingly, he led the Mozart and Zwilich works with equal finesse and conviction.

The concert, however, was dominated by a host of brilliant soloists. From the three scintillating violinists, Cho-Liang Lin, James Ehnes, and Augustin Hadelich, who blazed through J. S. Bach’s Concerto in D Major for Three Violins, BWV 1064, to amazing pianists Jonathan Biss and Barnatan who duelled playfully through Mozart’s Concerto in E-flat Major for Two Pianos, K. 365, to the arresting cellists Clive Greensmith and Edward Arron who mastered Vivaldi’s Concerto in G Minor for Two Cellos, RV 531, to Hadelich’s vibrant account of Handel’s Violin Sonata in D Major, HWV 371, the audience feasted on one virtuoso performance after another.

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REVIEW: Conductor Nicholas McGegan Leads a Triumphal Orchestral Finale to La Jolla SummerFest 20192019-08-27T10:01:52-07:00

REVIEW: Old and new successfully commingle as SummerFest comes to a happy end

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Christian Hertzog
August 24, 2019

At Friday night’s final La Jolla Music Society SummerFest concert, works by Andrew Norman and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich engagingly commingled with Bach, Vivaldi, Handel and Mozart in Baker-Baum Hall.

This year’s SummerFest was programmed around the theme of “Transformation,” composers and arrangers finding inspiration in earlier music. I don’t recall another SummerFest that executed a festival-long idea as new Music Director Inon Barnatan did this year. His programming choices were thoughtful and thematically consistent.

Take the J.S. Bach Concerto in D major for Three Violins that opened the concert. For years, this work was known as a concerto for Three Harpsichords, but scholars believe that the triple harpsichord concerto was an arrangement of a triple violin concerto. Violinist Rudolf Baumgartner reconstructed this lost concerto by changing the key and arranging the harpsichord parts for violins.

Baroque music expert Nicholas McGegan ably conducted a pick-up orchestra drawn from SummerFest’s amazing reserve of musical talent, with previous SummerFest director Cho-Liang Lin joyfully playing the first violin part alongside James Ehnes and Augustin Hadelich.

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REVIEW: Old and new successfully commingle as SummerFest comes to a happy end2019-08-29T16:47:11-07:00

ARTICLE: La Jolla SummerFest 2019 Ends with Synergistic Mix of Old and New Music

Times of San Diego
Barry Jagoda
August 24, 2019

La Jolla’s three-week-long, world-renowned summer music festival came to a brilliant finale, with memorable performances of Bach, Mozart and Vivaldi by the SummerFest Chamber Orchestra.

At the finale on Friday night, patrons extended rave applause for violinists James Ehnes, Augustin Hadelich and Cho-Liang “Jimmy” Lin, who has completed his 18-year tenure as festival music director, but returned to play.

For their presentation of Mozart’s Concerto For Two Pianos and OrchestraInon Barnatan, the world-class pianist, who has just concluded a first, highly successful term as festival music director, was joined by pianist Jonathan Biss.

Biss was back from playing flawlessly earlier last week, accompanying tenor Robin Tritscher in his moving singing of Schumann’s “Poet’s Love” on a night under the umbrella title “Love Stories.”

As a theme of the finale, the Festival Chamber Orchestra, under conductor (and harpsichordist) Nicholas McGegan, played in the “concerto grosso” style music from the 18th century.  In a concerto grosso, a small group of instruments and a larger group play in contrast to each another. The phrase is Italian for “big concerto.”

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ARTICLE: La Jolla SummerFest 2019 Ends with Synergistic Mix of Old and New Music2019-08-27T10:31:21-07:00

REVIEW: LA JOLLA SUMMERFEST Explores Love and Loss at Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center

Broadway World
Erica Miner
August 24, 2019

On Tuesday, Aug. 20, the highly regarded La Jolla Music Society’s Summerfest presented “Love Stories,” the penultimate program of their first season at the brand-new Conrad PrebysPerforming Arts Center, the Society’s new permanent home. Known to aficionados as “The Conrad,” the Epstein Joslin-designed Center includes a concert hall, named for founding sponsors Brenda Baker and Steve Baum, a 2000 square foot flexible performance space, a multipurpose meeting room, a spacious courtyard and offices for the Society.

Tuesday’s concert took place in the concert hall and was dedicated to the memory of Kay Hesselink. The much-loved, devoted patron of Summerfest over the past many decades was a former chair and a member of the Board of Directors of the festival who, along with her husband John, has hosted numerous Fest artists.

At 513 seats, the Baker-Baum Concert Hall is the perfect size for chamber music in an intimate setting, and the superb acoustics add to the effect. The venue is handsomely wrought, crafted of multiple types of wood, all burnished to a glow, and is sanctuary-like in its atmosphere, imparting an almost religious experience to the listener. The outstanding performers were without a doubt worthy of their new home.

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REVIEW: LA JOLLA SUMMERFEST Explores Love and Loss at Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center2019-08-27T10:18:49-07:00

REVIEW: Mark Morris Dance Group Soars at SummerFest 2019

The San Diego Story
Ken Herman
August 22, 2019

Music Director Inon Barnatan continues to demonstrate why the 2019 La Jolla SummerFest is not your grandmother’s SummerFest. Wednesday, August 21, he and the festival’s Synergy Initiative Co-producer Clara Wu Tsai presented the renowned Mark Morris Dance Group, accompanied by SummerFest musicians, in the Baker-Baum Concert Hall.

Eye, ear, and imagination have never been so simultaneously deluged in SummerFest’s 33 years of programming. Seventeen lithe, kinetic dancers brought five of Morris’ dances to Baker-Baum, including the premiere of his 2019 “Arrows. Eros,” set to the vocal music of G. F. Handel.

When Handel was not churning out Italian operas or English oratorios or bristling concerti grossi, he amused himself by writing florid Italian vocal duets, and Morris selected two of these rarely performed Italian duets for “Arrows. Eros.” Agile soprano Jennifer Zetlin and commanding countertenor John Holiday gave a rapturous account of these florid gems, accompanied by a basic continuoadroitly supplied by harpsichordist Colin Fowler—who is also the Mark Morris Music Director—and cellist Clive Greensmith.

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REVIEW: Mark Morris Dance Group Soars at SummerFest 20192019-08-27T10:09:52-07:00

Review: SummerFest revels in sextets and violins, and Timo Andres impresses with a masterful new piano trio

San Diego Union Tribune
Christian Hertzog
August 21, 2019

One of the most extraordinary things about this year’s SummerFest is the presence of 15 living composers on the programs. In recent times, SummerFest has had composers in residence, but never was there such an abundance of contemporary music on the festival.

Sunday evening at The JAI at The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, the second concert curated by David Lang introduced San Diegans to thirty-something composers Ted Hearne, Nina Young and Timo Andres.

Despite Lang’s introductions at the top of each concert, program notes would have better elucidated some of the works on the two “Music From Music” concerts.

In Hearne’s sextet for violins, “For the Love of Charles Mingus,” it wasn’t apparent how the rhythmic bow scrapes and chuffing noises, or the suppressed melodies, related to Mingus’ album, “The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.” Notes on Hearne’s website clarify that he “imagines some echo of that artifact living and breathing under layers of distortion and interference.”

That explains the blues and gospel fragments that occasionally rose to the surface. The concluding violin solo, dashingly played by Liza Ferschtman, appeared to reference the atypical saxophone solos that end each side of Mingus’ LP.

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Review: SummerFest revels in sextets and violins, and Timo Andres impresses with a masterful new piano trio2019-08-21T15:46:35-07:00

Review: Timo Andres’ Impressive Piano Trio at La Jolla SummerFest

San Diego Story
Ken Herman
August 19, 2019

Composer David Lang returned to the La Jolla SummerFest stage Sunday, August 18, to introduce his second installment of fresh contemporary music for this year’s festival. Like Lang’s last Sunday presentation, The Conrad’s JAI theater was filled with a convivial crowd that responded enthusiastically to his four contrasting musical offerings.

Timo Andres’ Piano Trio, with the composer at the piano, made a strong impression. Composed last year, it is a substantial, tightly constructed three-movement contemporary incarnation of this traditional chamber music format that Andres has filled with potent musical ideas and sumptuous textures. In this work, Andres explores two highly contrasting approaches: (1) while the piano provides rippling but understated support, the strings craft austerely beguiling themes individually and together; (2) using dense, muscular chords, the piano boldly drives the ensemble with unabashed domination.

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Review: Timo Andres’ Impressive Piano Trio at La Jolla SummerFest2019-08-21T15:41:59-07:00

ARTICLE: Conrad Prebys – a modern-day Razumovsky

San Diego Reader
Garrett Harris
August 16, 2019

I’m sure you remember the old “interrupting cow” knock-knock joke. Interrupting cow wh—? MOOOO!

That joke was on my mind during Miró Quartet’s all Beethoven concert on Saturday, August 11, at the La Jolla Music Society Summerfest.

I should probably explain. During the Beethoven String Quartet Op. 135, cellist Joshua Gindele became “the interrupting cello.” The joke was created by Beethoven and expertly told by Gindele.

Within the context of the music the clearly cello interrupts the line of the other instruments and goes in another direction. Gindele pulled this musical phrase off with an attack for the ages as a sly grin crept across his face, emphasizing the comedic quality of Beethoven’s music.

It might not sound like much but it is a moment I will never forget. Not only was it an insightful moment into the personality of Beethoven’s music, it was entertaining. That’s one word we could use more of in the concert hall.

It is instances such as this which make attending concerts a rich and rewarding activity.

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ARTICLE: Conrad Prebys – a modern-day Razumovsky2019-08-27T10:34:54-07:00

REVIEW: Smart Contemporary Chamber Music at La Jolla SummerFest

San Diego Story
Ken Herman
August 12, 2019

In his opening remarks to Sunday’s La Jolla SummerFest concert, composer David Lang explained that he chose the evening’s program to demonstrate how certain contemporary composers were showing their respect for music’s past. He gave us a helpful insight to Caroline Shaw’s 2011 work “Entre’acte,” noting that the composer set to work on this piece for string quartet after experiencing a quartet by Joseph Haydn.

As the Miró Quartet launched into this single movement work, it was easy to hear the echo of Haydn in Shaw’s lustrous harmony and voicing of the opening motif. The way that Shaw repeated and revoiced this phrase, however, was not at all like the way Haydn developed his musical ideas, and this was, of course, Shaw’s way to salute the past and yet make the piece her own. After some thematic deconstruction, she returned to her main theme, fashioning it with glistening harmonics or very soft pizzicatos. After a final statement of the theme bowed ardently at fortissimo volume, she had the solo cello pluck fragments of the theme as they slowly floated upward into total silence. Kudos to the Miró Quartet for giving this new piece its requisite vigorous articulation while maintaining the ensemble’s customary rich tonal palette.

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REVIEW: Smart Contemporary Chamber Music at La Jolla SummerFest2019-08-12T16:12:41-07:00

ARTICLE: Inon Barnatan’s First SummerFest Effortlessly Mixes Classical and Avant-Garde

Times of San Diego
Barry Jagoda
August 12, 2019

Midway through La Jolla Music Society’s delightful SummerFest, brand new Music Director Inon Barnatan has shown that he will mix traditional classical chamber music—where his piano work is among the globe’s most outstanding—with his own style of innovation.

Concert patrons, including music lovers who may also want to take advantage of a slew of free events, have been enjoying continuing treats. There is an unforgettable focus on the compositions of Beethoven, whose 250th birthday is being celebrated. And, in what has been dubbed “Synergy,” part of an overall “Transformation” for Barnatan’s first year, there are numerous surprises.

In months of advance planning, Barnatan has had the help of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Trustee Clara Wu Tsai. They have brought in jazz and other artistic inspirations for special evenings. But there are also presentations of Beethoven string and piano trio highlights. This mixture of old and new has been greeted with standing ovations.

For instance, in an evening of popular song on Aug. 7, the very fine jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant was accompanied by another, also classically trained, jazz great, the pianist Aaron Diehl. Also at the piano for the entire production was Barnatan, showing how he is incorporating various art forms into SummerFest programs for this, his first year in charge. The evening’s performances received rousing standing ovations.

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ARTICLE: Inon Barnatan’s First SummerFest Effortlessly Mixes Classical and Avant-Garde2019-08-27T10:23:55-07:00