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Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Recital
PIANISTIC COMMAND IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, October 08, 2017
Nikolay Khozyainov’s Oct. 8 debut at the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall was one of those rare moments in a young artist’s career when a performance approaches perfection. From the opening notes of Beethoven’s A-Flat Major Sonata (Op. 110) through a delightful recital ending transcription, the ...
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.