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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 that wander are lost, as the Sonoma County Philharmonic proved in their Feb. 15 concert in the Santa Rosa High School Performing Arts Center. L...
Symphony
BOLD OPERATIC AND SYMPHONIC CONTRASTS IN SF SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Nicki Bell
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Pianist Peter Serkin and San Francisco Symphony Laureate conductor Herbert Blomstedt pulled musical extremes together on Feb. 12 in Weill Hall Symphony concert where artistic experience was a defining factor. From the warmth and humor of Mozart’s F Major Piano Concerto, K. 459, to the turmoil, drama...
Symphony
A BANDONEONIST WALKS INTO A BAR ...
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 08, 2015
Seeing a bandoneón player in front of a symphony orchestra reminds one of the old joke about a kangaroo walking into a high-priced bar. The bartender says, "We don't get many kangaroos in here," to which the kangaroo replies, "With these prices, I can see why." Likewise, if a bandoneónist were to wa...
Chamber
INTENSE STRING PLAYING IN HEALDSBURG'S ALL-POLISH COMPOSER PROGRAM
by Nicki Bell
Wednesday, February 04, 2015
A surprise program change greeted a full house in Healdsburg’s SHED Grange Room Feb. 4 when the Szymanowski Quartet from Warsaw played an all-Polish composer concert. Judging by audience comments at intermission the displacement of an arrangement of a Mussorgsky work by Penderecki’s Third Quartet w...
Chamber
KNOTTY CELLO MUSIC THAT WAS (MOSTLY) EASY TO LOVE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 01, 2015
Notable cello concerts have recently graced Sonoma County with Edward Arron’s Oakmont recital and Yo Yo Ma’s sterling solo outing in Weill. So it was not surprising that Sæunn Thorsteindóttir walked onto the Schroeder Hall stage Feb. 1 with pianist Elizabeth Roe and found a packed house of non-Supe...
Symphony
ZOOLOGICAL THEME RESOUNDS IN SPLENDID VSO HOGAN CONCERT
by Elizabeth Warnimont
Sunday, January 25, 2015
A pair of virtuosic young pianists wowed the crowd Jan. 25 at the Vallejo Symphony Orchestra concert in Vallejo’s Hogan Auditorium, and part of the proceeds from the mostly animal-themed music benefited the Humane Society of the North Bay. Symphony conductor David Ramadanoff warmed up the afternoon...
Chamber
SNAZZY CLARINET-PIANO WORKS IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 25, 2015
Often international-level instrumental duos are pickup couplings, one virtuoso’s schedule meeting another’s with the resulting desultory concerts. An exception would be the violinist Anne Sophie Mutter with her long-time partner Lambert Orkis, and the Nakamatsu-Manesse Duo. The latter played a pro...
Recital
MESMERIZING BACH AND CASALS IN MA'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Cellist Yo Yo Ma’s warm friendship with North Coast audiences entered a new chapter Jan. 24 in a standing-room only and stage seats Weill Hall recital. Playing three Bach Suites for solo cello, Mr. Ma could have echoed the young Liszt’s famous comment, “the concert is me.” But the concert was real...
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.