April 2013: Heroic Theseus
“[Teseo] is very rarely performed, although it contains delectable arias orchestrated with exceptional attention to variety and color. The cast, led by the glowing soprano Dominique Labelle as the witch Medea, and the outstanding lyric soprano Amanda Forsythe in the title role, also afforded many moments of unalloyed musical pleasure. But for the most part it was the irrepressible positive energy of the orchestra that breathed life into this three-and-a-half-hour performance.” – Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim in The New York Times.
“As always with Handel, the score is replete with musical splendors – sinuous and heartfelt melodies, displays of vocal bravura, instrumental obbligatos artfully designed to match the dramatic situation… McGegan is such a long-standing master of this repertoire that the score practically glistens under his fastidious care. Dominique Labelle… was at once vengeful and vulnerable with a combination of limpid vocal tone and rhythmic ferocity.” – Joshua Kosman in the San Francisco Chronicle.
“To label George Friedrich Handel’s opera “Teseo” a neglected gem is a rather gross understatement. The third of the so-called “London” operas, churned out as the prolific 28-year-old German composer was just becoming the toast of that merry olde town, Teseo premiered at the Queen’s Theatre in the Haymarket in 1713, enjoyed a successful, if somewhat problematic run — and dropped out of the repertoire for 234 years!” – Sue Gilmore at the Contra Costa Times.
March 2013: The Italian Violin with Rachel Podger
“This was a friendly gathering of colleagues all assembled for the joy of making music. Those of us audience side were merely eavesdropping on an intimate occasion. Fortunately, the joy of that occasion had no trouble spilling off the edge of the Herbst stage and into the audience.” – Stephen Smoliar at Examiner.com.
“Not only did Rachel Podger, Elizabeth Blumenstock, Katherine Kyme and Carla Moore perform with clarity, fluidity, and unrelenting good humor, but the stellar acoustics of the Bing made every riff sound exquisitely articulated. This was far from an academic performance but one with warmth, grace, and fun – a word not often used in the concert hall.” – Cy Ashley Webb at Stark Insider.
“Podger is a most ‘interactive’ soloist. On stage, she doesn’t take herself too seriously and connects very directly and intimately both with the audience and with her fellow musicians — conducting them with, at times, whimsical facial and bodily expressions. Where Vivaldi (whose music somehow sounds eternally optimistic and, to me at least, bright “yellow”) was exploring the extremes of the Baroque violin, Podger followed with grace and ease, nimbly dancing across the strings and almost casually throwing around the composer’s many trills and adornments.” – Niels Swinkels at San Francisco Classical Voice.
February 2013: Essence of Classical Style
“You haven’t heard Philharmonia Baroque until you’ve heard them at Stanford’s new Bing Concert Hall. The sound is glorious and fully blended like a superb recording on an expensive stereo system played in a perfect room.” – Christine Baker at Peninsula Reviews.
“This performance must have been a real surprise to anyone casually acquainted with the composer’s [J.C. Bach’s] polite chamber music and operas. The biggest kick came with the ending, which, after a movement’s worth of thundering, suddenly dies off quietly. McGegan turned away from the musicians with a mock shrug.”
– David Bratman at San Francisco Classical Voice.
“The nature of the classical style has been a matter of considerable discussion, much of it emerging after Charles Rosen wrote his extended study, The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, in 1971… For Rosen the individuals who mattered most were Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven.”
– Stephen Smoliar at Examiner.com.
January: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Tour
“Violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock… was dazzling. She was able to elicit a hauntingly beautiful tone from her Guarneri. The audience was transfixed, leaning forward silently to hear every note of these pianissimo passages. ” Read more in Peninsula Reviews.
Carmel Music Society – Violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock & Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Jeff DeMarco, Peninsula Reviews (January 14, 2013)
“Among the finest performances of these underrated works.” Read more in the New York Times.
-The Best Classical Recordings of 2012, New York Times (December 20, 2012)
“[A] truly treasurable disc.” Read more in the New York Times.
James Oestreich, New York Times (October 26, 2012)
“In this context, the period-instrument sound of the orchestra is particularly pungent, with smoky woodwind sonorities and a raw-edged bite to the string sound.” Read more on SFGate.com
-Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle (December 12, 2012)
“[Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra] under conductor McGegan delivers deeply satisfying realizations of the Brahms Serenades.” Read more on Audiophile Audition.
-Audiophile Audition (September 29, 2012)
December 2012: A Bach Christmas
“The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale, joined by guest conductor Masaaki Suzuki, offered an ‘extraordinary now,’ indeed — blending expert execution with an infectious joy.” Read more on San Francisco Classical Voice.
-Jonathan Rhodes Lee, San Francisco Classical Voice blog (December 15, 2012)
“[T]he final chorus began and everyone collectively wished that the cantata would never end…Masaaki Suzuki brought out a lightness to this music that is often lacking.” Read more on Stark Insider.
-Cy Ashley Webb, Stark Insider blog (December 15, 2012)
Preview: Massaki Suzuki: The Powers of Bach
-Niels Swinkels, San Francisco Classical Voice (December 7, 2012)
November 2012: Beethoven’s Fourths
“This was the perfect music for this conductor and this orchestra, so beloved for their balance of wit and profundity…This was fine Beethoven playing — damn fine.” Read more on San Francisco Classical Voice.
-Jonathan Rhodes Lee, San Francisco Classical Voice (November 10, 2012)
“Every now and then I find myself encountered a performance that elicits that same edge-of-your-seat attention that one finds in a compelling movie narrative; and last night’s interpretation of what I have previously called the most sophisticated of Beethoven’s five piano concertos was just such an occasion.” Read more on examiner.com.
-Stephen Smoliar, Examiner.com (November 10, 2012)
“Clear, direct, intimate Beethoven.” Read more in the San Jose Mercury News.
-Richard Scheinin, San Jose Mercury News (November 9, 2012)
October 2012: Purcell’s Dioclesian
“A spectacular performance…Music Director Nicholas McGegan…led with his customary blend of finesse, buoyancy, and musical insight, and the orchestra responded with playing of tremendous verve and precision.” Read more on San Francisco Classical Voice. -Georgia Rowe, San Francisco Classical Voice blog (October 3, 2012)
“[E]lectrically exhilarating…I haven’t had a better evening in the concert hall since the 31st season of PBO.” Read more on Stark Insider. -Cy Ashley Webb, Stark Insider blog (October 5, 2012)
2012 Berkeley Festival & Exhibition
“The finest of the [Scottish folk-song arrangements by Haydn and Beethoven] combine sentiment and charm in deft proportions, and Labelle and McGegan brought both qualities to their performances.” Read more on SFGate.com. -Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle (June 6, 2012)