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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...
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.