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 Recent Reviews
SYMPHONY
SENSUAL OPERATIC BON BONS AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Alan Bloom
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Music Director Norman Gamboa never fails to come up with interesting programs for his Sonoma County Philharmonic concerts. It was all opera music for the second concert set of the 2016-2017 season Nov. 19 in the Santa Rosa High School Auditorium. From the romantic opening swells of the Berlioz’ Ov...
SYMPHONY
ORION WEISS TAKES BARTÓK AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 06, 2016
Gifted pianists are everywhere these days, but few have the prodigious speed, stamina, and musicality of Orion Weiss. He exhibited all these qualities in a memorable rendition of Béla Bartók’s second piano concerto with the Santa Rosa Symphony Nov. 6 in Weill. Weiss is a no-nonsense pianist. He sea...
SYMPHONY
TADDEI TRIUMPH IN VSO SEASON OPENING CONCERT
by Elizabeth Warnimont
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Vallejo Symphony Orchestra's guest soloist Sara Davis Buechner wowed her audience Oct. 30 in a stellar performance of Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto, the second of three pieces comprising the symphony’s season-opening performance in Hogan Auditorium and the debut of its new music director, Marc Ta...
CHAMBER
TASTY TRIO NAVARRO CONCERT WITH SRS WIND VIRTUOSI
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 23, 2016
SSU’s resident Trio Navarro has a long history of presenting diverse programs in the piano trio format, with occasional out-of-area artists joining the mix. This familiar configuration was altered in an Oct. 23 Schroeder Hall concert with the deletion of the violin part and the addition of two ster...
RECITAL
SOUND AND FURY IN MATSUEV WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 22, 2016
A touring virtuoso’s reputation often precedes him or her, and usually that’s a good thing. The reputation of a Renée Fleming or a Yo Yo Ma can guarantee a sold out hall, and possibly a great concert. But not always, and so there was some concern at Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s Oct. 23 Weill re...
CHAMBER
TRIO VALTORNA'S JAUNTY EXPLORATIONS AT OAKMONT CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 20, 2016
New York’s Trio Valtorna came to Music at Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium stage Oct. 20 with three disparate works, and in two of them instrumental sonic continuity was not a main goal. But it was in the second half’s seminal piece, Brahms’ E-Flat Major Trio (Op. 40) for horn, violin and piano, that br...
RECITAL
ARTISTRY AND AMPLE RELAXED CHARM AT PERLMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Itzhak Perlman has fashioned a career that encompasses more than virtuoso violin performance, and includes teaching, narrating musical documentaries, score editing, humanitarian projects, charity events and an often an easy “ah shucks” demeanor that is always beguiling. With pianist Rohan de Silva ...
RECITAL
MORGAN'S ORGAN VIRTUOSITY SHINES IN ALL BACH RECITAL IN SCHROEDER
by James Harrod
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Robert Huw Morgan, Stanford University’s consummate organist, returned to the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall October 16 to play a thrilling recital of great Bach organ music from mostly Bach’s Cöthen period. Professor Morgan’s eclectic program included the Prelude and Fugue in E Flat Major, B...
SYMPHONY
BAROQUE NO MORE IN STIRRING BEETOVEN CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Seasoned listeners for Beethoven’s symphonies and concertos know that interpretations can follow contemporary fashion, from the heroic and sonorous grand manner readings of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the architectural approach after WW II, and even conductor Roger Norrington’s recent ...
SYMPHONY
DUET FOR FLUTE AND BATON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 09, 2016
Sustain, sustain, sustain! That exhortation often passes the lips of music teachers, and their students’ success is often judged by how well they master the concept. Two students who mastered it to perfection are Bruno and Jean Ferrandis, the “Brothers in Black” who led and soloed in the Santa Rosa ...
Local Concerts  
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Sunday, November 27, 2016
Vienna Boys Choir

Vienna Boys Choir in Weill Hall

EARLY CHRISTMAS SEASON TRIUMPH FOR 24 ANGELS IN WEILL

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, November 27, 2016

Weill Hall Nov. 27 was packed with an audience of young and old excitedly waiting for an early holiday concert by the Vienna Boys Choir, and this esteemed Choir is a five-hundred year institution which is based in a school of 100 choristers. Four touring groups divide their time between studying and world tours, and their ages are between nine and fourteen. Alumni include Joseph and Michael Haydn and Schubert.

The Sonoma County weather had turned cold but the twenty four youngsters emerged singing a Gregorian chant "to you I have lifted my soul” (Psalm 24) and warmed many hearts and captivated audience ears for upwards of two hours. Led by their remarkable conductor and pianist, Jimmy Chiang, they started with early repertoire in the first hour, gradually moving through the centuries as the concert unfolded. Mr. Chiang took some moments to greet the audience with great charm, and acknowledged that this Christmas program was somewhat early in the season. However, these boys in their sailor suits had traveled far and effortlessly moved the audience into a festive mood.

After the opening unison singing, a Sanctus by Jacobus de Kerle (1531-1591), provided a showcase for a cappella singing that filled the hall and was intriguing with complex dissonant voice leading. There was excellent variety of dynamics and tempo. Fux’s Salve Regina added Mr. Chiang as pianist, and he conducted from the piano which was positioned center stage with singers on either side. Joseph Haydn's "Mad and Useless Worries" was dramatic and vibrant with beautifully shaped vocal phrases.  Michael Haydn's "Anima nostra" has a text about our souls being set free like a bird from a net. Here the setting used a solo soprano juxtaposed with the full choir and then duo soloists alternating as well. Each song had the singers grouped in different configurations, often highlighting the contrasts between young boy soprano fragility and full rich treble harmonies.

A Mozart selection from a Cantata (K. 619) began with a recitative sung with pure child's voice and the special natural innocence often lost in the glories of trained professional adults. The Mozart was well performed with attention to rhythmical clarity and phrasing. The text is a marvel of profound thoughts on life, mankind and the world and wisdom sung by the young: "Love order and symmetry and harmony. Love yourselves and your brothers!" Mr. Chiang's accompaniments were were always balanced and delightfully nuanced, the playing of a consummate musician.

A special selection was next, a modern a cappella piece: Mercy-Forgiveness-Inner peace -Agnus Dei (1965), by Gerald Wirth, artistic director and president of the Vienna Boys Choir. A simple rising motive at the start led to a soaring descant over a drone, a staccato "miserere" and attractive jazzy syncopated figures. This was sung with commitment and fervor, and was a fine introduction to Mr. Wirth as a composer.

A second surprise was Lerner and Loewe's "On the Street Where You Live" from the Broadway show “My Fair Lady.” The thematic connection to Vienna was the fact the Loewe's family was from Vienna. The piano accompaniment was lively and the singers were relaxed and sang with enthusiasm. Further selections featured waltz and polka-inspired songs by Viennese composers Josef Strauss and Joseph Lanner. The choir sparkled and the music danced, describing in humorous texts the joys of traveling and a zoo coming to life in the night. Here, before intermission, the audience on their feet applauding vigorously.

After the break, standard Christmas carols, some arranged by Mr. Wirth, were performed with expert and polished singing and occasional choreography. A cappella versions of Adeste Fidelis and “Lo How a Rose” presented subtle dynamics with moments of wonderful quiet beauty. O Heiland, arranged by Mr. Wirth, was effective with its unison ending and Kletke's “Am Weinachtsbaum” contained a humming bagpipe effect as accompaniment, varying the verse textures. Two ecstatic pieces, a solo Schubert Ave Maria and Pueri Concinete by Ritter von Herbeck, soared through the hall and represented the Romantic tradition, followed by a touching arrangement of a Tyrolean lullaby, "It will be dark soon". 

The 20th century was ushered in with four movements of Britten's Ceremony of Carols, gracefully and expertly accompanied on the piano instead of harp.  Originally composed for treble voices, the tempo was often extremely brisk, providing intense energy interspersed with the sweet upper voice slower sections.

Wild clapping and shouts of appreciation brought three encores after a final and jazzy “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.” A sweet “Silent Night” calmed the tumult. Then the choir sang “Goodbye, Aufwiedersehen” from the Broadway show “The Sound of Music,” with various groups waving and moving away. The last encore was a lively “Feliz Navidad” with the audience joining the boys' clapping.

These twenty four angels of song from Vienna presented an elegant and touching musical journey and brightened the early holiday season.

Nicki Bell contributed to this review.

Events Calendar

SYMPHONY
Santa Rosa Symphony
Saturday, December 03, 2016
8:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Bruno Ferrandis, conductor. Jenni Samuelson, soprano; Christopher Bengochea tenor; Philip Skinner,
Elgar: Enigma Variations for Orchestra, Op. 36; Rachmaninoff: The Bells (Choral Symphony), Op. 35, and Vocalise in E Minor, Op. 34, No. 14; Augusta Read Thomas: Prayer Bells...
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SYMPHONY
Ukiah Symphony
Saturday, December 03, 2016
8:00 PM - Ukiah
Les Pfutzenreuter, conductor. Lawrence Sarabi-Holmefjord, piano
Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 (From the New World); Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 3 in D Minor...
Details

SYMPHONY
Santa Rosa Symphony
Sunday, December 04, 2016
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Bruno Ferrandis, conductor. Christopher Bengochea, tenor; Jenni Samuelson, soprano; Philip Skinner,
Elgar: Enigma Variations, Op. 36; Rachmaninoff: The Bells (Choral Symphony), Op. 35, and Vocalise in E Minor, Op. 34, No. 14; Augusta Read Thomas: Prayer Bells...
Details

SYMPHONY
Ukiah Symphony
Sunday, December 04, 2016
3:00 PM - Ukiah
Les Pfutzenreuter, conductor. Lawrence Sarabi-Holmefjord, piano
Rachmaninoff: Concerto No. 3 in D Minor; Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 (From the New World)...
Details

CHAMBER
Festival Consort
Sunday, December 04, 2016
3:00 PM - Petaluma
Festival Consort. Renaissance Glory: Carol Menke, soprano; Chris Fritzsche, countertenor; David Hog
Six-Part works. Josquin: Ave Maria; settings of "Nun komm der Heden Heyland"; songs of Dunstable; traditional carols $20 admission; balcony $25. At the door or at www.brownpapertickets.com...
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SYMPHONY
Santa Rosa Symphony
Monday, December 05, 2016
8:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Bruno Ferrandis, conductor. Jenni Samuelson, soprano; Christopher Bengochea, tenor; Philip Skinner,
Rachmaninoff The Bells (Choral Symphony), Op. 34, and Vocalise in E Minor, Op. 34, No. 14; Augusta Read Thomas: Prayer Bells; Elgar: Enigma Variations, Op. 36...
Details

CHAMBER
Music at Oakmont
Thursday, December 08, 2016
1:30 PM - Santa Rosa
Rachel Lee Priday, violin; Andrew Armstrong, piano
Brahms: G Major Violin Sonata, Op. 78; Corigliano: Violin Sonata; Beethoven: G Major Sonata, No. 10, Op. 96 Concerts are open to Oakmont residents and their invited guests. Single tickets are $20 at...
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SYMPHONY
North Bay Sinfonietta
Friday, December 09, 2016
8:00 PM - Santa Rosa
Cynthia Weichem, conductor
J. C. Bach: Symphony No. 18 (No. 4); L. Mozart: Sleigh Ride; Hindemith: Tuttifäntchen (1922); Pfitzner: Christmas Elf Overture Admission: $8 at the door...
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CHAMBER
Redwood Arts Council
Saturday, December 10, 2016
7:30 PM - Sebastopol
Elena Urioste, violin; Adam Golka, piano
Mozart Sonata in G Major, K. 379; Messiaen: Theme et Variations; Schubert: Rondo Brilliante; Brahms: Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Op. 77 ...
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CHORAL AND VOCAL
Mastercard Performance Series
Sunday, December 18, 2016
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
American Bach Soloists and the American Bach Choir, Jeffrey Thomas, conductor. Helene Brunet, sopra
Handel: Oratorio "Messiah" Tickets start at $40...
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