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Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Symphony
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
Recital
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpour’s March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
Recital
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
Chamber
CONSUMMATE ENSEMBLE FROM THE MIRÓ IN WEILL
by Sonia Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Sunday, March 05, 2017
A March 5 Weill hall audience of 350 leaned in to share an intimate musical space and to hear the Miró String Quartet’s sterling concert. Starting with Haydn's Op. 20, No. 4, the four musicians seemed to want listeners to be enveloped in their music. The Miró plays with the feat of being four dist...
Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
Chamber
MUSIC AND ART MELD IN ZUCKERMAN TRIO CONCERT
by Nicki Bell
Friday, February 24, 2017
A Feb. 24 Weill Hall concert by the Pinchas Zuckerman Trio juxtaposed formidable music making with palpable associations about visual art. Brahms’ C Minor "Sonatensatz” (Scherzo) is a short youthful work for violin and piano, and was an opening call to action. Lively and vigorous playing alternated...
Chamber
THREE BEETHOVEN TRIOS BEGUILE AUDIENCE IN FEB. 19 WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Chamber music concerts featuring one composer can be tricky, but the Han/Setzer/Finckel trio made a Feb. 19 Weill Hall audience of 500 hear and to a degree see the boundless creativity of Beethoven. The G Major Trio, Op. 1, No. 2, opened the afternoon’s Beethoven odyssey and one wonders why it is t...
Chamber
AUTHORITATIVE BARTOK HIGHLIGHTS TETZLAFF VIOLIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Christian Tetzlaff’s Feb. 18 violin recital rolled along with lively and fresh readings of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert when the specter of Bartok’s granitic Second Sonata intervened. The sonic shock to the audience of 250 in Weill was palpable. Composed in 1923 the 20-minute two-movement work i...
Symphony
WHAT SOUND DO STAR-CROSSED LOVERS MAKE?
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so the Santa Rosa Symphony feted the occasion by telling and retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet, a tale ever the more poignant during our era of stark divisions. The first telling was from Berlioz; the second from Prokofiev. In between was Brahms’ monu...
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.