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Chamber
"DR. DOROTHY" CHARMS CAS ORGAN RECITAL AUDIENCE
by James Harrod
Sunday, March 22, 2015
The silver clad dancing feet of organist Dorothy Young Riess brought excitement and inspiration to organ enthusiasts March 22 at Resurrection Santa Rosa’s Resurrection Church. Standing tall and straight, poised and beautiful, in sparkling silver and black attire, this 84-year old virtuoso musician, ...
Symphony
RAVISHING RUSSIAN MUSIC AND SOLOIST BURNISH SRS CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 21, 2015
It’s rare in a symphony concert, even one with many surprises, that a soloist takes on two disparate concertos with mostly identical results. But it was exactly the outcome of pianist Olga Kern’s appearance March 21 with the Santa Rosa Symphony in Weill Hall. Surprises? The first came with her po...
Symphony
A TROIKA TO REMEMBER
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 21, 2015
At the beginning of the 20th century, Russia was home to three extraordinary composers--Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Stravinsky--whose stars continue to shine. Rachmaninoff carried on the Romantic tradition, Stravinsky tried to annihilate it, and Prokofiev landed somewhere in the middle, clinging to tra...
Chamber
TCHAIKOVSKY'S BIG TRIO WAS FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, March 14, 2015
Grief and love are the catalytic converters of great art. On March 14 an almost full house in the Occidental Performing Arts Center was treated to a passionate evening of grief and love in musical outpouring from a terrific (yes, hot) award-winning ensemble. The Lysander Trio’s (named for a charac...
Recital
PERAHIA'S INTENSITY SHINES IN WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 07, 2015
Murray Perahia has built a long pianistic career based on performances of discernment, classical structure and impeccable taste. His playing always exudes a refinement and lapidary attention to musical detail. And so it was in his March 7 Weill Hall debut recital before an audience of 900, with a c...
Chamber
WINDS BLOW SWEETLY IN WEST COUNTY
by Philip Beard
Sunday, March 01, 2015
March 1 was the perfect date for a rousing wind-groups concert at the Occidental Center for the Arts. Two local groups, the Coastal Winds Woodwind Quintet and the 5th Avenue Brass Quintet, did themselves proud before a near-sellout crowd. The performance was to benefit the host Center, currently r...
Choral and Vocal
A DEFINITIVE ST. MATTHEW AT ABS BELVEDERE CONCERT
by Joanna Bramel Young
Friday, February 27, 2015
The American Bach Soloists performed Bach’s timeless St. Matthew Passion Feb. 27 to a sold-out audience at St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere. In the account of Christ’s last hours as set forth by evangelist Matthew, the Passion stands supreme, beside the Mass in B Minor, as Bach’s finest creation. ...
Symphony
HEALDSBURG PHILHARMONIA PLAYS THE RAVEN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Les Pfutzenreuter is a conductor that gets around, moving from his Ukiah base at Mendocino College and the Ukiah Symphony to festival and concert appearances with many orchestras. February 22 found him with the Healdsburg Philharmonia in that City’s Raven Theater with works of Copland and Tcha...
Symphony
CHAMPAGNE ORGY OF SWISS ORCHESTRA'S SOUND IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Orchestras on tour usually perform hefty display works to showoff their virtuosity and power. And so it was with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (OSR) Feb. 14 in Weill Hall. Big works, weighty display. And in a surprise the compositions by Stravinsky and Ravel in the second half did the rare th...
Symphony
LENGTH? HEAVENLY LENGTH AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 14, 2015
A Bruckner Symphony performance can be a demanding task for both the orchestra and audience, as each of the nine are long and musically wandering. But not all that wander are lost, as the Sonoma County Philharmonic proved in their Feb. 15 concert in the Santa Rosa High School Performing Arts Center...
RECITAL REVIEW
Creative Arts Series / Sunday, November 01, 2009
"For The Hallows, Saints and Souls"
Leon W. Couch III, Organist

Creative Arts Series' Beth Zucchino with Organist Leon W. Couch III (photo by Roy Crockett)

COLORFUL VIRTUOSITY IN COUCH ORGAN RECITAL

by Jim Harrod
Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sonoma County hosted a magnificent exposition of the art of organ playing and interpretation on November 1 by Leon W. Couch III. Performing at the organ console of Resurrection Catholic Church in Santa Rosa and sponsored by the Creative Arts Series, Mr. Couch performed a selection of organ classics with remarkable virtuoso expertise.

The eclectic program included Buxtehude’s Praeludium in F-sharp Minor, (Bux WV 146, c 1690), Pachelbel’s Variations on Aria Sebaldina (Hexachordum Apollinis, 1699), Bach’s famous Toccata in F Major (BWV 540/1, 1707), Janet Linker’s Theme and Variations on “O Waly, Waly” (1999) and the Aria and Finale from Vierne’s Organ Symphony No. 6 in B, Op. 59 (1930).

Mr. Couch’s sensitive registration of organ stops for each of the selections was clearly the result of extensive scholarship in the selected music. The Buxtehude and the Pachelbel were performed with a large variety of flute and mutation stops typical of the north German Baroque instruments still existent today, and the Buxtehude was played with a restrained registration not often conceptualized by non-professional organists. The popular Bach Toccata was “candy-on-a-stick” with an electrically rapid pedal technique.

The only contemporary composition on the program, Janet Linker’s hymn variations “O Waly, Waly,” not only wAS beautiful but demonstrative of the organ’s flexibility in multiple musical genres. Selections from the Vierne symphony concluded the program with yet another display of outstanding pedal technique finger wizardry.

The Allen digital electronic instrument at Resurrection Parish and its excellent installation was well suited for this program. The organ has two sets of digitally sampled sounds of organ stops, one north European Baroque and one French, providing appropriate authentic voices for each of the pieces played. Mr. Couch’s program came to the audience complete with copious and scholarly program notes and spoken explanations and anecdotes by the artist before each selection. It was evident by this why he was named the Montague Teaching Excellence Scholar at Texas A & M in 2006. A most satisfying recital by a master colorist.

Redwood Empire AGO Chapter Dean Carolyn Wiester attend the recital:

This program was yet another of emotional magnitude for me, as the perfection of organ technique and interpretation by Mr. Couch was stunning. The beauty of thy stained glass windows in the church as the sun was receding was reflected in the pieces chosen by the organist, from melodic tones of minor keys in the Buxtehude and Pachelbel, to the glorious Bach Toccata.

After the European flavor of the first works, I was pleased by the contemporary American selection that included theater organ style, gospel, smaltzy jazz and sounds of Gershwin. And then finally to Paris, the seat of 19th-Century French organ music, with Vierne’s characteristic chromatic style. I could envision myself moving from the grandeur of Notre Dame’s huge cathedral to the more earthy show of spirited girls and Gallic fanfare. It was a magical organ experience.