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Tuesday, June 18, 2019
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 Recent Reviews
CHAMBER
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six song...
SYMPHONY
ALEXANDER TORADZE DELIVERS A LESSON IN SERENITY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 05, 2019
An entire concerto movement consisting of serene piano melodies over a soothing backdrop is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when seeing Shostakovich’s name on an orchestra program, but that’s exactly what pianist Alexander Toradze delivered--twice--at Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony c...
SYMPHONY
MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON CLOSES WITH AUTUMNAL ELGAR AND THEATRICAL BEETHOVEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Mozart’s enchanting Overture to his opera The Magic Flute, a miniature tapestry of gems from the 1791 work, opened the Marin Symphony’s final concert of the 2018-2019 season. Under conductor Alasdair Neale, the playing of the sprightly seven-minute piece by a reduced-size classical ensemble sparkled...
RECITAL
SHAHAM-EGUCHI DUO'S EXCITING MUSICAL GENEROSITY IN WEILL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, April 26, 2019
Violinist Gil Shaham may be the most modest virtuoso on the concert stage today, and it is the great music he most wishes to put forward, never himself. Generosity, a quality he is known for, was abundantly clear in Weill Hall April 26 when he performed, with pianist Akira Eguchi, a generous program...
RECITAL
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
SYMPHONY
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
CHORAL AND VOCAL
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
SYMPHONY
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
RECITAL
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
CHAMBER
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Local Concerts  
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Sonoma Bach / Saturday, June 01, 2019
Sonoma Bach Choir. Robert Worth, conductor. Live Oak Baroque Orchestra. Danielle Sampson, soprano; Paul Murray, bass

L to R: D. Sampson, E. Blumenstock, R. Worth, W. Skeen and P. Murray June 1

NOBLE BRAHMS REQUIEM PERFORMANCE CLOSES SONOMA BACH'S SEASON

by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 01, 2019

Sonoma Bach, conducted by Robert Worth, presented a truly grand finale to their 2018-19 "Light Out of Darkness" season in two sold out Schroeder Hall performances June 1 and 2. The program "A Human Requiem" was received rapturously with a well-deserved standing ovation for the main work, Brahms' Ein deutches Requiem. Saturday’s evening’s performance is reviewed here.

The Requiem was preceded in a brief first half by five German baroque motets written on some of the same texts Brahms employed in the setting of his Requiem in 1868. The fifty-plus member choir was joined by Sonoma Bach's resident Live Oak Baroque Orchestra (violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock, director) for a impressive evening of music-making.

The reviewer is a recent Bay Area transplant, so this was my first experience with Sonoma Bach and Schroeder Hall, and I was not disappointed. It is a charming venue, and Sonoma Bach a formidable group. My seat (so comfortable) was in the center of the back section and the acoustics from where I sat were wonderful and balanced. Other attendees sitting to the hall’s far sides and close to the stage however complained of some balance issues with the chorus.

Mr. Worth devoted the first part of the performance to a set of five 17th century German motets for orchestra and chorus by five different composers: Thomas Selle, Tobias Michael, Heinrich Schwemmer, Andreas Hammerschmidt, and the great Heinrich Schütz. The Schwemmer was notable for some uncertain entrances by the choir and an overall lack of crispness compared to the other pieces, and the Schütz stood out as the most powerful. Although all are wonderful works with an interesting musicological connection to the Requiem, and were certainly well-performed, they seemed unnecessary to fill out this program. Even at only 70 minutes, Brahms doesn't need a curtain warmer. It's such a special piece that I wouldn't have felt cheated by letting the performance be just a beautiful evening with a beloved old friend you don't get to see very often.


After intermission the range and vocal scope of the Requiem cannot be underestimated. Although not as operatic as Verdi's Requiem or as vocally punishing as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, it is still a huge sing. The individual sections (even the oft-neglected altos) are given gorgeous and exposed phrases, particularly in the 7th movement, making section blend an even more critical element. The contrapuntal sections are tricky with entrances coming in odd places, and plenty of opportunities for singer error. This group, however, nailed everything with ample evidence of solid preparation. I heard confident entrances, clear diction (for this German speaker), consistent blend and laudable stamina. The tenors prevailed successfully with an impressive tone most of the time, given the high tessitura of their part. The altos and basses were rich and full-voiced throughout. The sopranos floated into the stratosphere with a lovely quality, if occasionally a tiny sag in pitch. The chorus has a well-blended, uniform sound overall, even at double forte.

Of particular interest in this program was the 20-member chamber orchestra's rendering of a recent (2011) reduced orchestral arrangement of the Requiem prepared by Joachim Linckelmann. Though I missed the important emotional color of the harp in some key moments, the reduction otherwise worked splendidly in the intimate Schroeder setting. There was exceptional blend, ensemble, and nuance from the strings, and the oboe, horn and timpani solos came through poignantly. I was impressed at how full the overall sound was.

The soloists, Danielle Sampson and Paul Murray, were both of very high caliber. Ms. Sampson's clear and lovely soprano soared effortlessly through the long phrases of the 5th movement "Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit" ("Now you have sorrow") with warm, sympathetic expression. Mr. Murray, with his attractive (if not thunderous) bass-baritone, gave an appealing, technically solid and dramatically intense performance of the sermon-like solos contained in the third and sixth movements: "Herr, lehre doch mich" ("Lord, teach me") and "Siehe, ich sage euch ein Geheimnis" ("Behold, I tell you a mystery"). Both soloists joined the chorus for the final
movement-a nice decision to include them.


Mr. Worth is a passionate and inspirational scholar and conductor, and his framing of the concert in a theme of "light" is what people love about Sonoma County, and you could feel it in the audience. His conducting was bright, energetic, and rhythmically very disciplined, though at times his excitement gave way to a driven quality. His tempos were surprisingly fast at the Saturday performance, particularly in the first four movements, at odds with Brahms' own markings. More introspection, tenderness (and light!) could have been accomplished by slowing down a little and letting the music exhale, giving more space at points of repose or transition, allowing the pauses and extended ritards to happen, and Brahms' own rhythmic flexibility to have its way. That said, this was a very clean, tight and admirably cohesive performance. He indeed made the light shine out of darkness through this very "human" requiem.









Events Calendar

SYMPHONY
College of Marin Contemporary Opera Marin
Thursday, June 20, 2019
7:00 PM - San Rafael
Musicians TBA
Paul Smith: one act opera "Aurora." Also music by Ernst Bacon, Cowell, Ron Fein, Tara Flandreau, Kevin Schuepbach, Stockhausen and Del Tedici $10 Cover Charge at Fenix Night Club. No admission charg...
Details

CHAMBER
College of Marin Music from Marin Chamber Players
Saturday, June 22, 2019
7:30 PM - Kentfield
Musicians TBA
Music (TBA) of Terry Bozzio, Mark Adler, Susan Lockwood, Ernst Bacon, Stockhausen, Dedl Tredici, Jules Langert, Cowell, Maximilian Maksutovic, Tara Flandreau, Ron Fein, Kevin Schuepbach and Jerry Froh...
Details

CHAMBER
Valley of the Moon Music Festival
Saturday, July 13, 2019
8:00 PM - Sonoma
Erich Hoeprich, clarinet; Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin; Eric Vivian, piano
Mozart: E Flat Trio ("Kegelstatt") Donor Concert and Artist Reception; please contact VOM Music Festival For Information and availability...
Details

SYMPHONY
Mendocino Music Festival
Sunday, July 14, 2019
8:00 PM - Mendocino
Festival Orchestra. Allan Pollack, conductor. Stephen Prutsman, piano
Respighi: Pines of Rome; Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 21, K. 467; Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (arr. Ravel)...
Details

CHAMBER
Valley of the Moon Music Festival
Sunday, July 14, 2019
4:00 PM - Sonoma
Tanya Tomkins, cello; Erich Hoeprich, clarinet; Elizabeth Blumenstock, viola; Cynthia Freivogel and
Clementi: Preludes TBA; Haydn Trio TBA; Beethoven: Clarinet Trio, Op. 11; Mozart: Clarinet Quintet in A, K. 581 Lecture at 2:30 by Irene Zanini Cordi. Tickets are $45, with under 35 $25. Optional di...
Details

RECITAL
Mendocino Music Festival
Monday, July 15, 2019
2:30 PM - Mendocino
Robert Schwartz, piano
Haydn: E-Flat Major Sonata; Brahms: 8 Pieces, Op. 76; Chopin: Barcarolle, Op. 60, and Impromptus in A Flat (Op. 29) and G Flat, Op. 51...
Details

CHAMBER
Mendocino Music Festival
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
2:30 PM - Mendocino
Calder String Quartet. Benjamin Jacobson and Andrew Bulbrook, violin; Jonathan Moerschal, viola; Er
Ravel F Major Quartet; Bjarnsanon: "Steel Shot"; Beethoven: B-flat major Quartet, Op. 130...
Details

RECITAL
Mendocino Music Festival
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
2:30 PM - Mendocino
Robin Sutherland, piano
Bach: Partita No. 2 (BWV 826), additional Bach TBA; Ravel: Sonatine; Haydn: C Minor Sonata (Hob XVI/20)...
Details

RECITAL
Mendocino Music Festival
Thursday, July 18, 2019
8:00 PM - Mendocino
Mario Diaz-Moresco, baritone; Spencer Myer, piano
Brahms: Wie Melodian Zieht Es Mir, Die Mainacht, Von Ewiger Liebe, Botschaft; Schubert: Liebes Botschaft, In Der Ferne, Ganymede; Barber: Three Songs, Op. 10 (Rain Has Fallen, Sleep Now, I Hear An Arm...
Details

OPERA
Mendocino Music Festival
Friday, July 19, 2019
7:30 PM - Mendocino
Festival Orchestra. Mary Chun, conductor. Kevin Gino, tenor; Aurelie Veruni and Ann Lucas, soprano
Donizetti: Opera "The Elixer of Love"...
Details