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Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Recital
NOVACEK'S 2ND HALF TRIFECTA SCORES AT MENDO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Modern classical piano recitals are in two parts, with longer and perhaps more profound music proceeding perhaps shorter and usually stimulating lighter fare. In John Novacek’s July 13 Mendocino Music Festival recital the best playing came unexpectedly in the eight abbreviated works comprising the ...
Recital
STYLUS AND PLAYING FANTASTICUS IN YOUNG'S ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Organist Robert Young gave a wonderful tour through the stylus fantasticus (fantastic style) organ literature June 25 playing a recital on the Casavant organ at Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Young recently became the organist at the Church and previously served for 20 years as Music D...
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.