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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...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Green Music Center / Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie Fur Alte Musik Berlin

Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin

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 ties or shawls to socks and glass frames, the musicians, standing to play, engaged the audience immediately with sonic elegance, musical humor and clarity of purpose.

The opening piece was Telemann’s Overture Suite in B-flat, "Les Nations.” This suite set the stage for the theme of "foreign affairs." After a festive, then dance-like overture and  two minuets played with exquisite sensibility, the music contained character pieces depicting "Turcs, Suisse, Muscovites, Portugais Anciens, Portugais modernes, the lame and the runners."  Musical humor abounded with bold, rough and dramatic leaps for the Turks, then mournful moments alternating with lightness for the Swiss. The Muscovites were introduced with a silly and ominous bassoon bell sound alternating cleverly with cello and bass.

Then Portugal had the musicians smiling as they traded dotted rhythms and sudden accented motifs in the lower strings. Finally, the runners were fleet and the limping ones not. The audience found it all was entertaining and full of jolly sounds in good company.

Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049, followed the Telemann.. This beloved piece, with three soloists, violin and two recorders (Anna Fusek and Xenia Loffler) juxtaposed with a larger string ensemble, soared in the Akamus performance and transcended traditional molds. The ensemble was clear and balanced. The musicians breathed and lived the rhythms and musical dialogues. The andante slow movement was heartbreaking in expressive power. Here, suspended  dissonances and chromatic gestures filled the air and were moving and consoling. It is said that Baroque audiences in the Baroque era were moved to tears by the affective power of music and this concert was testimony to that. The presto movement followed "attacca" with dazzling fugal counterpoint, jazz-like riffs and the solo violin bow of Mr. Forck seemingly on fire. Bach's compositional magic swept onward and went into ever-widening realms of imagination and musical discoveries.

A happy crowd returned after intermission for Handel's Suite from Almira, HWV 1, his first opera.. This suite was comprised of instrumental sections written at the age of nineteen. and contains an international group of dances including a set called "The Masque of the Continents.” The playing of the overture had grandeur, as did the wandering of the chaconne and a fast courante with Ms. Fusek’s recorder solo. The sarabande was outstanding for its plaintive and hushed beauty, allowing the lute solo responses between string motifs. A fast and noisy bourree led to a courtly minuet with two oboes, a lively Rigaudon, a Rondeau with busy cello and bass lines, and a Ritornello. Many varieties of instruments were featured.

Vivaldi's Concerto for two oboes in d minor featured Baroque oboists Michael Bosche and Xenia Loffler. There were beautiful interactions between soloists and orchestra. The largo with the two oboes and continuo was highly expressive and the allegro conclusion had exciting fireworks following unison statements. Vivaldi's music is always fresh.

Jean Fery Rebel, French composer in the court of Louis XIV, continued the afternoon's focus on the variety of dance forms of Europe. His suite, "Les Characteres de la Dance,” was performed in a lighthearted and joyous manner. The  fourteen dances were miniature treats linked together in a pastiche, some of the individual dances only eight measures long, with changes of meter and key defining the arrival of each next dance.

Loud applause and calls of bravo brought the orchestra back for a lively encore, “The Attack on the Windmill” from Telemann's seven-part “Don Quixote” Suite.