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Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Recital
NOVACEK'S 2ND HALF TRIFECTA SCORES AT MENDO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Modern classical piano recitals are in two parts, with longer and perhaps more profound music proceeding perhaps shorter and usually stimulating lighter fare. In John Novacek’s July 13 Mendocino Music Festival recital the best playing came unexpectedly in the eight abbreviated works comprising the ...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
American Bach Soloists / Friday, April 16, 2010
Jeffrey Thomas, music director
Mary Wilson, soprano
Johanna Novom, violin
Corey Jamason, harpsichord

Mary Wilson

MARY WILSON'S VIRTUOSITY SHINES IN AMERICAN BACH SOLOISTS' MARIN CONCERT

by Joanna Bramel Young
Friday, April 16, 2010

The American Bach Soloists performed their final concert in the current series April 16 at St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere, and the large audience was treated to glorious works by Bach, Handel and Vivaldi. Each piece showcased a soloist who performed with members of the ABS orchestra. Rather than having a full orchestra, with many players on a each part, conductor Jeffrey Thomas chose to have two instrumentalists on each of the string parts. There were twelve strings, harpsichord, oboe and recorder in the mix.

Soprano Mary Wilson was the shining star of the soloists, opening the program with Vivaldi’s motet In furore iustissimae irae (In the furor of your most just wrath). The motet begins with the strings’ playing a dashing and crashing introduction (reminiscent of his famous “Winter” Concerto) symbolizing the descent into Hell. Ms. Wilson then entered over the thundering ensemble, echoing passionately the words “In the furor of your most just wrath you might act with strength.” Her voice was so perfectly matched to the strings, there seemed to be nothing she couldn’t do, evoking wrath, fury and tears. The audience was enthralled with the virtuosity of her singing. Every emotion was wrung from the piece as the music changed from dramatic Allegros to weeping Adagios. In one aria Ms Wilson sang in unison with a solo violin, ending on a pianissimo. On the da capo she sang the last phrase up an octave – in her highest register – and ended in a breathtaking pianissimo. The concluding “Alleluia” of the Vivaldi was a coloratura masterpiece for voice, sung with perfection.

Sandwiched between two vocal works on the program were two concerti by Bach, the first was his Concerto in D Minor for Harpsichord and Orchestra. Bach was the first composer to write a keyboard concerto and the great piano concertos of the next century owe their legacy to him. Corey Jamason was the soloist. The string players stood in a great semicircle around the magnificent harpsichord, with its Chinese red lid interior brightly lit and open to the audience. The work began with all the instruments playing in unison. Suddenly the harpsichord broke away into its own part, with strings punctuating the rhythmic pulses. At one point the orchestra suddenly stopped, in a grand pause, and the harpsichord then launched into a brilliant cadenza. Mr. Jamason negotiated the cascades of Bach’s counterpoint with mastery, clarity and passion.

After the intermission violinist Johanna Novom soloed in Bach’s Concerto in A Minor for Violin and Orchestra. Ms Novom is a recent winner of the ABS Young Artist’s CompetitioN in, and has a warm tone and fine phrasing that underscores her mastery of baroque style. The Andante was especially moving, with the low strings beginning and the solo violin entering with an achingly beautiful melody. The Allegro, with its galloping rhythms, ended the piece with the violin playing brilliant runs above the strings.

The final piece presented Ms. Wilson for a second time in Handel’s long secular cantata Delirio Amoroso (A Lover’s Delirium). Oboe and recorder (both played flawlessly by Debra Nagy, another winner of the ABS Young Artist’s Competition) joined the orchestra. While the young Handel was in Rome this was probably his first major work. The cantata is very operatic, with displays of an extremely wide range of vocal and instrumental emotion. Handel, who became the supreme master of the art of operatic composition while in Rome, was forced to call his operas “cantatas” because the reigning Pope banned all opera performance. Because of this, his cantatas from this period are operatic in character. The most beautiful aria from this work was “For you I left the light,” the soprano accompanied by a solo cello. Throughout the piece Ms. Wilson’s singing was transcendent. At the conclusion of the Handel the audience gave her a long standing ovation, justly deserved. Seldom does one hear a voice as marvelous as hers.