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Guest conductor Patricia Handy's large gestures encourage robust playing. Photo by Shawn Jacobson/The Spokesman-Review
"I think this place was made for country music," said Ronnie Dunn (right) during Brooks & Dunn's Sunday night show at the Arena.
Tabu Ley Rochereau sings in a native tounge of Zaire, Lingala, adding mystery to his highly harmonic sound.
"Soprano soloist Theresa Santiago is clearly on her way to a fine career. Santiago's purity of tone, clear diction and musical sensitivity undergirded a profoundly touching performance of Barber's 'Knoxville: Summer of 1915.' Conductor Patricia Handy led the orchestra in robust performances of Nielsen and Mozart."
"This was a great country inauguration for the new Arena. Brooks & Dunn were in fine form, mixing their standard country songs with smoke, flash and stadium-rock showmanship. Miracle of miracles, you could hear both bass and vocals clearly, without that echo chamber ambience."
Despite a long period of semi-retirement, Carl Fontana proved that he is still a remarkably powerful and inventive trombone player in his performance with the Whitworth Jazz Band on Saturday night.
Spokane Symphony Orchestra Friday, Oct. 27, at the Opera House For the classical music listener, nothing quite matches the thrill of a masterful performer revealing the beauties of an enormously challenging work. Nelson Freire, a pianist known to me previously only through recordings and reputation, proved a great master of the instrument Friday in Rachmaninoff's fearsomely difficult Third Piano Concerto. Every page of this concerto contains some new technical hurdle - flashing scales and arpeggios, cascades of powerful chords, and rapid-fire repeated notes. Freire surmounted these difficulties with apparent ease, never letting technical showiness obscure the concerto's lyric beauties or its little flashes of humor. Freire and conductor Fabio Mechetti did not observe any of the standard cuts in the concerto made by many pianists, including the composer himself. This work can seem tediously long in less-sensitive hands. But Freire and Mechetti brought a sense of inevitability to Rachmaninoff's seemingly random structure. Mechetti's keen orchestral accompaniment provided its own rewards, such as the first movement's melodic interchange among flutist Bruce Bodden, oboist Keith Thomas and clarinettist Virginia Jones and the sonorous brass in the finale.
Leontovych String Quartet Sunday, Oct. 22, The Met The Spokane Chamber Music Association began its 1995-96 season with an almost-all-Russian program by the Leontovych String Quartet. Even Beethoven's "Serioso" Quartet, the sole non-Russian item, was played with a grave, Slavic intensity that extended Beethoven an honorary Russian citizenship.
NoMeansNo Friday, Oct. 20, Knights of Columbus When the Northwest music scene was still in diapers and members of Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam were still learning to play their instruments, there stood NoMeansNo, a brilliant and relatively unknown punk band from Vancouver, British Columbia. Today, NoMeansNo remains underground and vastly under-rated, but nonetheless one of the region's most crucial punk rock bands. The band first played Spokane in the mid-'80s, where it quickly developed a loyal, almost religious, following. Then, fans understood the importance of the band.
Peter Nero rocked the keyboard at the Opera House.
Mike Gordon, Page McConnell, Jon Fishman and Trey Anastasio of Phish played at the Opera House Saturday night. Danny Clinch photo
Spokane Jazz Orchestra Sunday, Oct. 8, at The Met With the introduction of a new music director Saturday, the Spokane Jazz Orchestra ushered in a new era. Dan Keberle led the big band to a higher level of playing than I have heard from it in the past. The band was sizzling hot as it took Met listeners on a tour of the Americas: South to Mexico, Cuba and Brazil. Even in the mellow tunes the SJO maintained an infectious Latin beat, and turned the tour into a party. It seemed as if every member of the group was having a great night. The kind of relaxed concentration that kept the band's ensemble playing tight put the audience on the edge of its collective seat. Solos were focused and exciting.
Guest conductor Patricia Handy gave Schumann's "Spring" an enlivening variety. Photo by Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review
Zephyr Saturday, Sept. 30, at The Met Count on Zephyr to storm into its season with something outrageous. The scene was Berlin cabaret sometime early in this century before Adolf Hitler stamped out cabarets as immoral and politically subversive. The subjects heard in the songs at the "Zephyr Cabaret" leaned heavily on the seamy side of sex, on radical politics and exploitative commercialism. If the subject matter was dreary, Zephyr's excellent performers radiated energy and enthusiasm. The gritty Met stage set featured dim lighting and an effective Expressionist back curtain painted by Curtis Coyote. The groups of songs were framed by David Jones' imaginative, pungent instrumental arrangements of songs from Kurt Weill's "Three-Penny Opera." People who listen much to classical music know Arnold Schoenberg. They have their own opinions about Schoenberg's densely organized, highly dissonant music. But Zephyr's pianist-director Kendall Feeney and soprano Cyndia Sieden hauled out five of Schoenberg early cabaret songs that proved a delightful contrast to Schoenberg's serious side - easily listenable, simple and sometimes just plain sweet or silly. There was one, though - "Der genugsame Liebhaber" (The Contented Lover) - that was really naughty. And it was the only song on the program sung in English rather than the original German.
Jamaican reggae band Black Uhuru brought their sound to Spokane.
Boyz II Men Monday, Sept. 25, Spokane Arena One would think, by the third visit in less than a year, Spokane has had its fill of Boyz II Men. Hardly.
The orchestra paid tribute to the late Bruce Ferden with a conductor-less performance of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings.
1. Tim McGraw is one of the fastest rising stars in country music and his show at the Fair showed why. 2. Martina McBride had fun with the crowd when she asked them to sing along at the Interstate Fair. File photo
Thousands jammed Comstock Park on Sunday evening for the symphony's annual Labor Day concert. Photo by Liz Kishimoto/The Spokesman-Review
1. Rod Stewart thrilled the Gorge crowd with his showmanship. Photo by Ken Settle. 2. Carlos Santana's classics drew standing ovations Saturday. Photo by Ken Settle.