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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...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
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.