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Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
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...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
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...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
RECITAL REVIEW
Creative Arts Series / Sunday, November 01, 2009
"For The Hallows, Saints and Souls"
Leon W. Couch III, Organist

Creative Arts Series' Beth Zucchino with Organist Leon W. Couch III (photo by Roy Crockett)

COLORFUL VIRTUOSITY IN COUCH ORGAN RECITAL

by Jim Harrod
Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sonoma County hosted a magnificent exposition of the art of organ playing and interpretation on November 1 by Leon W. Couch III. Performing at the organ console of Resurrection Catholic Church in Santa Rosa and sponsored by the Creative Arts Series, Mr. Couch performed a selection of organ classics with remarkable virtuoso expertise.

The eclectic program included Buxtehude’s Praeludium in F-sharp Minor, (Bux WV 146, c 1690), Pachelbel’s Variations on Aria Sebaldina (Hexachordum Apollinis, 1699), Bach’s famous Toccata in F Major (BWV 540/1, 1707), Janet Linker’s Theme and Variations on “O Waly, Waly” (1999) and the Aria and Finale from Vierne’s Organ Symphony No. 6 in B, Op. 59 (1930).

Mr. Couch’s sensitive registration of organ stops for each of the selections was clearly the result of extensive scholarship in the selected music. The Buxtehude and the Pachelbel were performed with a large variety of flute and mutation stops typical of the north German Baroque instruments still existent today, and the Buxtehude was played with a restrained registration not often conceptualized by non-professional organists. The popular Bach Toccata was “candy-on-a-stick” with an electrically rapid pedal technique.

The only contemporary composition on the program, Janet Linker’s hymn variations “O Waly, Waly,” not only wAS beautiful but demonstrative of the organ’s flexibility in multiple musical genres. Selections from the Vierne symphony concluded the program with yet another display of outstanding pedal technique finger wizardry.

The Allen digital electronic instrument at Resurrection Parish and its excellent installation was well suited for this program. The organ has two sets of digitally sampled sounds of organ stops, one north European Baroque and one French, providing appropriate authentic voices for each of the pieces played. Mr. Couch’s program came to the audience complete with copious and scholarly program notes and spoken explanations and anecdotes by the artist before each selection. It was evident by this why he was named the Montague Teaching Excellence Scholar at Texas A & M in 2006. A most satisfying recital by a master colorist.

Redwood Empire AGO Chapter Dean Carolyn Wiester attend the recital:

This program was yet another of emotional magnitude for me, as the perfection of organ technique and interpretation by Mr. Couch was stunning. The beauty of thy stained glass windows in the church as the sun was receding was reflected in the pieces chosen by the organist, from melodic tones of minor keys in the Buxtehude and Pachelbel, to the glorious Bach Toccata.

After the European flavor of the first works, I was pleased by the contemporary American selection that included theater organ style, gospel, smaltzy jazz and sounds of Gershwin. And then finally to Paris, the seat of 19th-Century French organ music, with Vierne’s characteristic chromatic style. I could envision myself moving from the grandeur of Notre Dame’s huge cathedral to the more earthy show of spirited girls and Gallic fanfare. It was a magical organ experience.