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Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
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 REVIEW
Numina Center for Spirituality and the Arts / Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Etienne Walhain, organ

Organist Etienne Walhain

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 resources of Incarnation’s Casavant organ to great effect, creating unique and interesting registrations (making, for instance, a gross tierce where none had previously existed!).

The program began with the blazing passage-work of Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 903. The scale and arpeggio figurations passing between the hands and going from upper to lower manuals were impressive, if perhaps a tick too rapid for complete enjoyment. Throughout the program, it was his pedal technique which stood out. He showed no upper body movement as he negotiated astonishing pedal figures with total clarity and no apparent difficulty.

We were then treated to some novel programming, hearing two Vivaldi concertos as transcribed by Bach and Mr. Walhain’s teacher Jean Guillou. The first, in a minor (BWV 593), was transcribed by Bach to better understand the Italian style of composition, and the second, in D major, was arranged by Guillou, a virtuoso organist. Although they are rather light music, they gave ample opportunity for clever and interesting registrations and again pointed to his faultless and easy pedal technique. With the three opening pieces, the audience was happy to hear Baroque-era German and Italian pieces played on a French disposition instrument by a talented Belgian romantic-style organist.

The final two pieces on the program seemed to bring out the best playing from this organist. The Piece Heroique by his countryman, Franck, was a lesson in romantic style playing. His handling of the form and texture of the work was outstanding, and understanding of the work’s complexities was enhanced throughout by his expert use of rubato. For me the highlight of the program was the Reger’s monumental Introduction and Passacaglia. It is a great work of art, and the artist played it with the respect it deserves, and the abandon it demands. Again, he made the thorny pedal part sound easy. Not one of the wild harmonic moments was lost and when near the end, he pushed the “tutti” button, we were lifted from our seats.

For an encore, he played a transcription (again by Guillou) of a toccata by Prokofiev. It was a typical virtuosic potboiler with presto passagework, lickety split repeated notes, hands crossing over and under each other and flying double-pedal work.

Thanks are due Incarnation Parish and Numina Center for Spirituality and the Arts for bringing this wonderful artist to Santa Rosa.