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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 ...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Saturday, July 22, 2017
Festival Chorus and Orchestra, Allan Pollack, conductor. Julie Kierstine, soprano;Donna Olson, also; Alex Boyer., tenor; Phil Meyer, bass

Verdi Requiem Performance July 22 in Festival Tent

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 rendering of Verdi’s 1874 (“Manzoni”) Requiem to the delight of an enthusiastic audience of 800 inside the white Tent erected on the spectacular Mendocino bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The laboring oars in this monumental effort were the four featured singers who rose mightily to the occasion. Their solo and ensemble singing were the wind in the sails of Verdi’s over-the-top theatrical score which made maximum use of his virtuosity as a writer of dramatic compositions. Operatics aside, the performance avoided bombast with a sensitive reading of dynamic contrast and sonic color. Amazingly, Mr. Pollack was able to keep orchestra, singers and chorus in a wonderful symbiotic balance where each could be heard, no one drowning the others out, even in the busiest sections.

The chorus was particularly well prepared for the long concert. Lyrics were clear and communicative, sections entered appropriately on cue and harmonies and dynamics always delivered to maximize dramatic effect as appropriate. One perhaps not so unusual observation was of a female member singing in one of the men’s sections. The voices were clearly put where they were best used. The double chorus had taken the better part of a year to master the complex Requiem and their hard work was rewarded with a mesmerizing performance.

The orchestra itself was full of seasoned and Festival emeritus musicians and their playing was the seabed upon which the entire effort was based. Steady when necessary and full of power and sensuality as needed, the orchestra contributed spectacularly to the musical whole. From the ancient and anchoring Dies Irae to the Tuba Mirum, with its offstage trumpeting (in this case outside the tent) Mr. Pollack managed to bring out the best in all the participants. Pacing was always appropriate and each piece that composed the whole carefully thought out. Mr. Pollack’s careful direction and engagement with his performers was apparent.

Julie Kierstine, soprano. Donna Olson, mezzo-soprano. Alex Boyer, tenor, and bass Phil Meyer gave soaring performances that held the audience in hushed awe, and the singing helped navigate the way through Verdi’s complex score. Playing lightly off each other at times, and giving full voice to compellingly dramatic sections made the performance one to remember.

The solemnity of a Catholic Requiem Mass can be overwhelming at times and the listener is likely to become reflective and sober in subsequent thoughts. What the composer managed to accomplish is a grand salute to the passing of life, but with a tasteful celebration of life woven into the score. The net result, especially with the high caliber of performance witnessed at the Festival’s closure, provided the audience with a transcendental experience.