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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 ...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Ensemble Vermillian / Saturday, January 02, 2010

Vermillian Ensemble On Stage in Santa Rosa's Sophia Hall

EARLY MUSIC VIRTUOSITY FROM THE VERMILLIAN EMSEMBLE

by Joanna Bramel Young
Saturday, January 02, 2010

Summerfield Waldorf School in Santa Rosa hosted a concert January 2 in their handsome West Santa Rosa Sophia Hall, featuring the Vermillian Ensemble.

Frances Blaker, well-known to Bay Area recorder players as both a teacher and performer, brought a handful of fine baroque recorders to perform works for recorder, violin, cello and harpsichord. She and baroque violinist David Wilson treated an appreciative audience that filled the hall to a variety of trio sonatas, accompanied by baroque cellist Barbara Blaker-Krumdieck and harpsichordist Hanneke van Proosdij. Ms. Blaker, in order to extend the repertoire possibilities of the recorder, took on the project of finding interesting works written for two violins and basso continuo and arranging one of the violin parts for recorder. This was a frequent practice in the 17th and 18th centuries, where the title page would often read “May be played on flute, oboe or violin.” This practice of course helped sell more music to players of different instruments. Ms. Blake explained her reason for undertaking the project by telling the audience, “I love to play the recorder, but I love to listen to the violin.”

The program’s first work was a trio sonata by Corelli, the Roman composer known for his sweet melodies and clear, defined bass lines. The sparkling last Allegro allowed the recorder, in the hands of Ms. Blaker, to demonstrate abundant facility and instrumental mastery. Cello and harpsichord provided sensitive support to the upper voices. The next piece was by Giovanni Battista Fontana (1589?-1630?), the earliest composition on the program. Fontana, along with the better known Frescobaldi, was a Venetian composer writing pieces in the “stilo moderno” (modern style) which was in vogue in the years after 1600.

This style influenced composers for the next hundred years, and one of its characteristics was, rather than having each movement separated by a pause, which later sonatas exhibited, one movement ran seamlessly into the next. The last note of the Adagio segment would be the first note of the next Allegro. These works involve brilliant flashes of ornamentation, and the whole piece was meant to sound like an improvisation. Ms. Blaker used a soprano recorder which was a copy of an instrument appropriate to the period. Passionate extended notes at the beginning, echoed by harpsichord and cello, were followed by virtuosic runs, requiring intense and expressive articulation among the three players. A quick dance in 6/8 suddenly appears out of an Adagio to end the piece with great energy.

Hanneke van Proosdij demonstrated her virtuosity with a captivating work for solo harpsichord by Joseph Hector Fiocco (1703-1741). She began in the low register using the pungent lute stop, letting the right hand enter later in the louder, more singing “regular” register, creating a moving duet between bass and treble. Ms. van Proosdij is not only known as a harpsichordist, but also a performer on the recorder. Her own vermillion scarlet Dutch made harpsichord provided a fitting setting for the Ensemble Vermillian.

David Wilson exhibited a passionate style in performing the “Sonata Quarta” by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (c.1620-1680). Mr. Wilson mentioned that Schmelzer was one of the great violinists of his generation, and related to the audience that this work “showed how much fun it is to play the violin.” The harpsichord and cello began with an absolutely simple ground bass of four descending notes, over and over, as Mr. Wilson “vamped” over the four notes in a series of brilliant variations.

The program ended with Buxtehude, where the recorder and violin were able to show their mettle in long solo passages with harpsichord and cello, all merging together into a rich ensemble sound.