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Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 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...
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...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Sonoma Bach / Saturday, November 13, 2010
Circa 1600 Vocal Ensemble
Live Oak Baroque Orchestra
Robert Worth, director

Heinrich Schütz

CIRCA 1600 CHORUS SINGS MAGNIFICENT SCHÜTZ WORKS AT HOLY FAMILY CHURCH

by Joanna Bramel Young
Saturday, November 13, 2010

A small but appreciative audience enjoyed a concert of vocal works by the great early Baroque master Heinrich Schütz Nov. 13 at the Holy Family Episcopal Church in Rohnert Park. Accompanying the fourteen singers, skillfully directed by Robert Worth, were John Dornenburg on the G violone and Susan Harvey on the positiv organ.

Robert Worth is well known to Sonoma County audiences as a Music Department Professor at Sonoma State and director of several of the area’s finest choral ensembles. A recent retiree from the University, Mr. Worth in September formed the chamber chorus Circa 1600, focusing on the rich repertoire that spanned the late Renaissance and the early Baroque periods (the 16th and 17th centuries). The Chorus also occasionally moves backward to the 15th and forward to the 18th centuries, and they are often joined by members of the Live Oak Baroque Orchestra.

Heinrich Schütz was a perfect choice for the ensemble, in that his life spanned the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Schütz (1585-1672) was born in Germany one hundred years before Bach. When he was twenty-four he spent years in Italy studying with the great Venetian master Giovanni Gabrieli, and in 1611 he wrote a group of Italian madrigals dedicated to his renowned teacher, ultimately bringing the “new” Italian style of playing to Germany. The program Saturday evening opened with some of Schütz’s later religious motets called Geistliche Chormusik (Spiritual Choral Music), which showed off the choral ensemble’s considerable abilities. Although composed in German contrapuntal style the music also reflected some of the newer elements of the rising Italian forms. The music mirrored texts beautifully: in the motet So fahr ich hin zu Jesu Christ (Thus I go hence to Jesus Christ) there are moving, overlapping ascending and descending phrases that capture the great humanity of the music. At the words So schlaf ich ein und ruh fein (Then I fall asleep and rest soundly) one can feel the music following the meaning of the words. The vocal ensemble was uniformly solid and very expressive in these magnificent motets. Endings of each work were carefully tuned and often tapered down to a pianissimo.

This reviewer especially enjoyed Selig sind die Toten (Blessed are the dead). The violone doubled the strong bass voices, and the soft deep sonority of the Baroque chamber organ added to the tapestry of textures. The violone in G is a magnificent looking instrument, slightly larger and “fatter” than the better known viola da gamba. Mr. Worth, besides conducting, also added his fine bass voice to the ensemble.

The second set of works on the program were a group of five-voice madrigals, written while the youthful Schütz was in Italy. Madrigals were meant to be sung a capella – without instrumental accompaniment. He composed only one book of madrigals, but his substantial talents for musical variety and his knowledge of the Italian language make these secular works delightful. These madrigals, with their sudden change of mood and treacherously fast notes require an extremely facile group of singers. Sometimes the clarity of the parts was lost in the complex counterpoint and cascades of notes, but they still maintained their great variety of colors and emotion.

This reviewer’s favorite piece on the program was the last one, from Schütz’s own final work, the Schwanensang (Swan Song) for eight voices in two antiphonal choirs. The joyous triple rhythm with its many hemiolas (two against three rhythms) brought the evening to a jubilant close.