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Chamber
EXTRAVAGANT FUSION OF STYLES AT CHRIS BOTTI BAND WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Jerry Dibble
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Trumpeter Chris Botti still performs in jazz venues including SF Jazz and The Blue Note, but now appears mostly in cavernous halls or on outdoor stages like the Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center. He brought his unique road show to the packed Weill Hall August 12 in a concert of effusive e...
Chamber
SCHUBERT "MIT SCHLAG" AT VOM FESTIVAL MORNING CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
The spirit of 19th century Vienna was present July 29 on the final day of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival in the second half of July glittered with innovative programming and the new, old sound of original instruments played by musicians who love music with historic instruments. ...
Chamber
PASSIONATE BRAHMS-SCHOENBERG MUSIC CLOSES VOM FESTIVAL SUMMER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
An extraordinary program of chamber music by Brahms and Schoenberg attracted a capacity crowd to the Valley of the Moon Music Festival’s final concert July 29th in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. It opened with a richly expressive reading by Festival Laureate violinist Rachell Wong and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur...
Chamber
PRAGUE AND VIENNA PALACE GEMS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 28, 2018
The remarkable Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented a concert called “Kinsky Palace” July 28 on their final Festival weekend in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. Two well-known treasures and one lesser gem were programmed. Starting the afternoon offerings were violinist Monica Huggett and Fest...
Chamber
INNOVATIVE CHAMBER WORKS IN HANNA CENTER CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, July 22, 2018
The Valley of the Moon Music Festival presented a July 22 concert featuring three giants: Haydn, Schubert and Schumann, composers who altered music of their time with creative innovations and artistic vision. In the fourth season the Festival’s theme this year is “Vienna in Transition”, and VOM Fes...
Chamber
VIENNA INSPIRATION FOR VOM FESTIVAL PROGRAM AT HANNA CENTER
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, July 21, 2018
A music-loving audience filled Sonoma’s Hanna Center Auditorium July 21 to begin a record weekend of three concerts, produced by the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival’s theme this summer is “Venice in Transition – From the Enlightenment to the Dawn of Modernism” Prior to Saturday’s m...
Chamber
VANHAL QUARTET AT VOM FESTIVAL DISCOVERY AT HANNA CENTER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 15, 2018
A near-capacity crowd of 220 filled the Sonoma Hanna Boys Center Auditorium July 15 for the opening concert of the fourth Valley of the Moon Music Festival. This Festival presents gems of the Classical and early Romantic periods performed on instruments of the composer’s era, which presents a few ch...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Sonoma State University Department of Music / Sunday, March 29, 2015
Trio Ariadne; Argento Ensemble, Michael Galante, conductor. Fredericka von Stade, soprano

Soprano Frederick von Stade

AUTUMNAL MAHLER SONGS BY VON STADE IN WEILL HALL CONCERT

by Mary Beard
Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sonoma State’s Music Department sponsored a farewell concert in Weill Hall March 29 for the Trio Adriadne, artists-in-residence for the last two years. Combining with the Trio (Carol McGonnell, clarinet; cellist Sæunn Thorsteinsdótter; pianist Elizabeth Joy Roe) was the Argento Chamber Ensemble, directed by of Michel Galante, and with the Ensemble the diva Fredericka von Stade. The Trio and the Argento gave the bulk of the program.

Each member of the Ariadne performed solo part in one of the pieces. Except for a short fragment of the unfinished Schumann D Minor Piano Concerto, all the works were contemporary, including a solo piano work by Mr. Galante, and early in the program he said “If you’re not used to hearing the contemporary medium of Western Music, I suggest you just listen and react; with each piece, you’re likely to love it or hate it.” And listening to comments from the audience, I’d say that was the case. Some of the works were quite interesting with lots of textural variety, and some were disturbing, ethereal, repetitive or annoying. For me, the two most interesting were a performance by Philip Edward Fisher of Mr. Galante’s “Megalomania,” which jumped all over the keyboard with a bombastic quirkiness, and Ligeti’s “Cello Concerto,” performed by Ms. Thorsteinsdóttir. It began with a single cello note, going from pppppppp to perhaps mp over a minute and a half, with other instruments eventually joining in on the pitch. It was very dreamlike but texturally quite intriguing.

The orchestra members and most soloists wore the traditional black concert attire, but when soprano Frederica von Stade came on stage for the concert’s last section, she wore black with a bright red scarf-like tunic which was exquisite and the presence of a splash of color was almost breath-taking after so much somberness.

It was also the first time all evening that true tonal color was heard as well and I basked in it. Up to Ms. von Stade’s singing there was much textural variety but nothing that felt personal and warm, and the artist immediately delivered intimacy and warmth with great depth of beauty.

Mahler’s “Songs of a Wayfarer” were written with the composer’s own lyrics in 1884-85, in the wake of his unhappy love for soprano Johanna Richter, whom he met while a conductor in the Kassel opera house. Later Mahler’s protégé Arnold Schoenberg scored the work for two wind instruments, piano, percussion and string quintet. Mr. Galante expanded this version to 15 players and this was what was heard accompanying Ms. von Stade. The sonic texture was not as lush as Mahler’s original, but it was surely personal and a provocative conversation of different instruments.

After 41 years on the opera and recital stage Frederica von Stade’s voice is as healthy, vibrant, and colorful as ever. It sounds as fresh as it did at the height of her career. She had some signs of a cold and cough at beginnings of very soft phrases, but it was truly an impeccable performance by a sterling artist. The four songs showed a range of emotions from distraught declamation to haunting melancholy, and eventually to vulnerable but optimistic acceptance of the new life journey ahead. The easiness of her voice seemed to pull the audience into the depicted pain, anguish, vulnerability and tenderness. In the first Song (“Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht”) and the third (“Ich hab’ ein glühend Messer”) the chest tones were powerful.

The Ensemble played in elegant communication with the vocal lines, and in the final song (“Die zwei blauen Augen”) the singer established a melancholy tone, and half way through, when she sings of finding a linden tree to rest under (and showered by its blossoms) the subtle drama moved to a major key and a sunny sense of hope and newness of life.

Her diction was excellent and the German easy to understand in all parts of her range. She used very little physical gesturing to display emotion, but allowed her voice and face alone to display the grand palette of emotional color. She was a joy to watch and to hear.

The audience of 1,100, liberally sprinkled with singers, gave the artist a standing ovation. There was no encore.

Susan Witt-Butler contributed to this review