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SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 08, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
Choral and Vocal
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 09, 2020
The Feb. 9 performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony offered a healthy dose of 21st century music firmly bound to the 19th. Matt Browne’s first symphony, “The Course of Empire”—based on a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School of American painting in the 1820s—emp...
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 02, 2020
Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert. In his eighth conducting season with the So C...
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 01, 2020
The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, gave a concert of enormous energy and emotional impact on Feb.1 to a small audience in Weill Hall. This orchestra has been a major cultural force in Poland since 1949, playing under many renowned conductors and has been committed to pr...
EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT
by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 2020
“Beautiful, strange, and unnatural…” said orchestra conductor Thomas Conlin when speaking of the tenor voice. One of the coveted voice types of the opera world, the tenor voice is known for it’s piercing tones and soaring, unnatural high notes. The iconic image of the Pagliacci clown (in the famed...
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.