Last weekend I also got up to Lesher for the California Symphony, a professional ensemble that's worth the hour-plus drive to get there, for not only good performances but appealing programming, the latter being a quality that Symphony San Jose seems to be opting out of.
This concert was all music for strings, and except for Dvorak's Serenade for same, which came out a little gruff, they were all intriguing back-burner items. The Introduction and Allegro by Elgar, and the Concerto for String Orchestra by Grazyna Bacewicz (Poland's greatest woman composer: I wrote about her before when Bard Music West devoted a small festival to her work) both had a seasoned texture to them which suited the works very well. It brought out the Brahms in Elgar and the Bartok in Bacewicz.
The last item was even more unusual, the Eclogue by Gerald Finzi, which is the slow movement from an otherwise incomplete concerto for piano and strings. The pianist, Elizabeth Dorman, got mostly soft unaccompanied passages and a little rumination with the strings. The music exuded Finzi's native quality, best describable as Vaughan Williams and water. Oh, come on: it was pleasant enough.
The rest of their season will feature the most amazing selection of symphonies: the now-neglected Franck Symphony (I don't have a ticket for that one: maybe I should go anyway, despite it also featuring a Chopin piano concerto, snore), Walton's First, and the Symphony by Hans Rott, something I never thought I'd hear live in this lifetime. The Walton either, actually. This is the kind of stuff I'd drive to Fresno to hear if Kuchar were still there, and Walnut Creek isn't nearly so far away.