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Choral and Vocal
NOBLE BRAHMS REQUIEM PERFORMANCE CLOSES SONOMA BACH'S SEASON
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 01, 2019
Sonoma Bach, conducted by Robert Worth, presented a truly grand finale to their 2018-19 "Light Out of Darkness" season in two sold out Schroeder Hall performances June 1 and 2. The program "A Human Requiem" was received rapturously with a well-deserved standing ovation for the main work, Brahms' ...
Chamber
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six song...
Symphony
ALEXANDER TORADZE DELIVERS A LESSON IN SERENITY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 05, 2019
An entire concerto movement consisting of serene piano melodies over a soothing backdrop is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when seeing Shostakovich’s name on an orchestra program, but that’s exactly what pianist Alexander Toradze delivered--twice--at Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony c...
Symphony
MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON CLOSES WITH AUTUMNAL ELGAR AND THEATRICAL BEETHOVEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Mozart’s enchanting Overture to his opera The Magic Flute, a miniature tapestry of gems from the 1791 work, opened the Marin Symphony’s final concert of the 2018-2019 season. Under conductor Alasdair Neale, the playing of the sprightly seven-minute piece by a reduced-size classical ensemble sparkled...
Recital
SHAHAM-EGUCHI DUO'S EXCITING MUSICAL GENEROSITY IN WEILL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, April 26, 2019
Violinist Gil Shaham may be the most modest virtuoso on the concert stage today, and it is the great music he most wishes to put forward, never himself. Generosity, a quality he is known for, was abundantly clear in Weill Hall April 26 when he performed, with pianist Akira Eguchi, a generous program...
Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
RECITAL REVIEW
Redwood Empire AGO / Sunday, August 28, 2016
Paul Blanchard, organ

Organist Paul Blanchard

NORTH GERMAN CHORALES WERE MUSIC FOR THE SOUL AT AGO RECITAL

by James Harrod
Sunday, August 28, 2016

Organist Paul Blanchard played an outstanding and instructive recital August 28 at Santa Rosa’s First Presbyterian Church. It was the fourth and last in a series of summer Sunday recitals featuring organists of the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO), and underwritten by the Church.

“Music for the Soul - The Art of the North German Chorale” was an appropriate title for Mr. Blanchard’s recital, which opened with Mendelssohn’s D Minor Sonata, Opus 65, No. 6. The work based on the German hymn tune “Vater unser in Himmelreich” by Martin Luther. The Sonata was followed by a collection of six Bach chorale preludes, and one chorale prelude by Samuel Scheidt.

Mr. Blanchard introduced the program by asking the audience to stand and sing from the hymnal the hymn “Our Father who Art in Heaven” on which the sonata is based. The organist then played the multipart sonata (Chorale, Fuga, and Finale) with flowing note-perfect confidence, observing organ registration and phrasing authentic to the composer and the instruments of his time.

The short Bach works by demonstrated how the great composer used repeating short motifs within the preludes to express the moods of the chorales: “Have Mercy, Lord” (BWV 721); “Come Holy Ghost” (BWV 631); “O Lamb of God” (BWV 618); “I call to Thee” (BWV 639); “We are here, Lord Jesus” (BWV 633); and finally “Christ Lay in the Bonds of Death” (BWV 625). These Preludes were played with clarity and simplicity using both perfect Baroque manual touch and selection of organ stops. The beautifully varied registration chosen by the organist made each prelude uniquely expressive.

The less familiar Scheidt “Cantio Sacra,” SSWV 106, based on the tune “Warum betrübst du Dich,” closed the program. This is a 12-verset composition from an earlier musical time, and once again Mr. Blanchard’s educated choice of organ stops made each of the sections fresh to the ear.

The performer, Music Director at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Healdsburg, gave the audience excellent verbal explanations of the music, bringing everyone from the late Renaissance through the Baroque and into the Romantic musical era in reverse chronological order! It was a very satisfying recital.