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SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 08, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
Choral and Vocal
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 09, 2020
The Feb. 9 performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony offered a healthy dose of 21st century music firmly bound to the 19th. Matt Browne’s first symphony, “The Course of Empire”—based on a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School of American painting in the 1820s—emp...
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 02, 2020
Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert. In his eighth conducting season with the So C...
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 01, 2020
The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, gave a concert of enormous energy and emotional impact on Feb.1 to a small audience in Weill Hall. This orchestra has been a major cultural force in Poland since 1949, playing under many renowned conductors and has been committed to pr...
EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT
by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 2020
“Beautiful, strange, and unnatural…” said orchestra conductor Thomas Conlin when speaking of the tenor voice. One of the coveted voice types of the opera world, the tenor voice is known for it’s piercing tones and soaring, unnatural high notes. The iconic image of the Pagliacci clown (in the famed...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Creative Arts Series / Sunday, June 02, 2013
Vinaccesi Ensemble: Kirk Eichelberger, Susie Fong, Sarge Gerbode, Nanette McGuiness, Hallie Pridham, Jonathan Smucker and Kindra Scharich

Vinaccesi Ensemble June 2 in Santa Rosa

RARE BAROQUE GEMS IN CREATIVE ARTS SERIES CONCERT

by Joanna Bramel Young
Sunday, June 02, 2013

A small but appreciative June 2 audience heard in Santa Rosa's Resurrection Parish a delightful buffet of baroque vocal and instrumental works performed by the five-year old Vinaccesi Ensemble of Berkeley.

Nanette McGuinness soprano; Kindra Scharich, mezzo soprano; Jonathan Smucker, tenor; and bass Kirk Eichelberger bass joined lutinist/guitarist Adam Cockerham, cellist Hallie Pridham and harpsichordist Susie Fong in the concert of works by Venetian composers. The group is named after a lesser-known composer named Benedetto Vinaccesi who flourished in the late 1600's in Venice. Like Vivaldi, he once was master di coro for the spedaletto - a home for abandoned children in Venice. Very little of Vinaccesi's compositions remain, but his extant works have the charm and sophistication of his more well known contemporariies.

The concert opened with three “Canzonette” and “Madrigaletti” by Salamone Rossi Ebreo, scored for various combinations of voices, with accompaniment by the great six-foot long arch lute, harpsichord and cello. Moving from one passion to another the voices achieved a fine blend, the singers looking at each other at the ends of phrases in order to achieve a perfectly tuned pianissimo.

Next came a Largo from Vivaldi's lute concerto, which Mr. Cockerham played impeccably on his small baroque guitar, with tasteful pizzicato cello accompaniment. On each repeat, the guitarist added elegant and precisely played ornaments, holding the audience in rapt attention. The balance between guitar and cello was exquisite.

This reviewer was pleased with the single movement instrumental interludes between the vocal pieces and they “cleared the palate” for the vocal works to come. Ms. Fong played two movements from Scarlatti harpsichord sonatas, and Ms. Pridham performed a Largo from a Vivaldi cello sonata. It would have been nice to hear more ornamentation from the cello, but otherwise it was sensitively played.

Mr. Eichelberger's long cantata “Distant from his beloved” was one of the most moving works on the program. The Vinaccesi piece-- the story of Mirtillo who is lamenting his dear Amirilli -- is full of feverish love and torment. Mr. Eichelberger has a superb voice, moving effortlessly from high to rock bottom notes in the bass clef. He brought out the dramatic and soulful words of the poetry. Recitatives contrasted with arias which changed mood from phrase to phrase. A coloratura passage would end in a perfectly placed deep low note.

Marcello's Psalm XV (from the King James Bible) was a showpiece for Mr. Smucker. Great emotional ups and downs characterized this lyrical composition. The cello and harpsichord had a very animated accompaniment, with affecting melodies interacting with the voice, In the last verse the cello played a repeating descending scale against the more inventive vocal part. Mr. Smucker has a clear, assured voice capable of evoking every changing emotion.

A cantata by Barbara Strozzi, “Beautiful eyes,” was scored for soprano and mezzo,with many ascending dissonances and intricate interplay between voices. Strozzi's “Hercules in love” was another highlight of the afternoon, sung by Mr. Eichelberger. He captured the poignant humanity of Hercules' torment over his “fickle and treacherous” love.

Monteverdi's “Why do you flee, oh Phyllis?” was a trio for mezzo, tenor and bass with continuo. The intricate intermingling of the vocal lines, rich in harmonies and aching dissonances resolved finally to a satisfying consonance to end the program.