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Recital
DEDIK'S POTENT BEETHOVEN AND CHOPIN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Monday, September 17, 2018
Anastasia Dedik returned Sept. 17 to the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series in a recital that featured three familiar virtuoso works in potent interpretations. Chopin’s G Minor Ballade hasn’t been heard in Sonoma County public concerts since a long-ago Earl Wild performance, and Beethoven’s...
Recital
DUO WEST OPENS OCCIDENTAL CONCERT SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 09, 2018
Before a full house at the Occidental Performing Arts Center Sept. 9 the cello-piano Duo West, playing from score throughout, presented a recital that on paper looked stimulating and thoughtful. Beginning with MacDowell’s To A Wild Rose (from Woodland Sketches, Op. 51), the transcription by an unan...
Chamber
CELLO-PIANO DUO IN HUSKY SPRING LAKE VILLAGE PROGRAM
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, September 05, 2018
Two thirds of the way through a stimulating 22-concert season the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series Sept. 5 presented two splendid cello sonatas before 110 people in the Village’s Montgomery auditorium. A duo for more than a decade, East Bay musicians cellist Monica Scott and pianist Hadle...
Chamber
EXTRAVAGANT FUSION OF STYLES AT CHRIS BOTTI BAND WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Jerry Dibble
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Trumpeter Chris Botti still performs in jazz venues including SF Jazz and The Blue Note, but now appears mostly in cavernous halls or on outdoor stages like the Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center. He brought his unique road show to the packed Weill Hall August 12 in a concert of effusive e...
Chamber
SCHUBERT "MIT SCHLAG" AT VOM FESTIVAL MORNING CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
The spirit of 19th century Vienna was present July 29 on the final day of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival in the second half of July glittered with innovative programming and the new, old sound of original instruments played by musicians who love music with historic instruments. ...
Chamber
PASSIONATE BRAHMS-SCHOENBERG MUSIC CLOSES VOM FESTIVAL SUMMER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
An extraordinary program of chamber music by Brahms and Schoenberg attracted a capacity crowd to the Valley of the Moon Music Festival’s final concert July 29th in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. It opened with a richly expressive reading by Festival Laureate violinist Rachell Wong and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur...
Chamber
PRAGUE AND VIENNA PALACE GEMS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 28, 2018
The remarkable Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented a concert called “Kinsky Palace” July 28 on their final Festival weekend in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. Two well-known treasures and one lesser gem were programmed. Starting the afternoon offerings were violinist Monica Huggett and Fest...
Chamber
INNOVATIVE CHAMBER WORKS IN HANNA CENTER CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, July 22, 2018
The Valley of the Moon Music Festival presented a July 22 concert featuring three giants: Haydn, Schubert and Schumann, composers who altered music of their time with creative innovations and artistic vision. In the fourth season the Festival’s theme this year is “Vienna in Transition”, and VOM Fes...
Chamber
VIENNA INSPIRATION FOR VOM FESTIVAL PROGRAM AT HANNA CENTER
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, July 21, 2018
A music-loving audience filled Sonoma’s Hanna Center Auditorium July 21 to begin a record weekend of three concerts, produced by the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival’s theme this summer is “Venice in Transition – From the Enlightenment to the Dawn of Modernism” Prior to Saturday’s m...
Chamber
VANHAL QUARTET AT VOM FESTIVAL DISCOVERY AT HANNA CENTER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 15, 2018
A near-capacity crowd of 220 filled the Sonoma Hanna Boys Center Auditorium July 15 for the opening concert of the fourth Valley of the Moon Music Festival. This Festival presents gems of the Classical and early Romantic periods performed on instruments of the composer’s era, which presents a few ch...
REVIEW

Baroque Oboist Debra Nagy

STERLING BAROQUE MUSIC PERFORMANCES AT SF CONSERVATORY ABS ACADEMY

by Joanna Bramel Young
Friday, July 12, 2013

The American Bach Soloists are holding their Academy for advanced young musicians July 12 through July 21 that explores early music, along with its annual summer Festival. The combination of the two is providing concerts by ABS, master classes, lecture-demonstrations, and performances by gifted Academy students. Once again the setting is the San Francisco Conservatory.

The initial ABS concert of the Festival July 12 was presented in the sold out Conservatory hall and offered a delightful mixture of works for small ensembles, divided among three seventeenth-century and three eighteenth-century composers. Violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock opened the evening with a charming chaconne, “Sonata Quarta,” by Schmelzer, accompanied by Corey Jamason, harpsichord, and Elizabeth Reed, viola da gamba. The gamba began alone on a simple descending four-note passage (characteristic of the chaconne) that was repeated throughout most of the work. The harpsichord then entered and the violin began a set of soaring variations over the repetitive continuo. While Ms. Blumenstock continually changed rhythm, dividing measures into many different note values, the bass line remained the same. Always pushing the envelope (to the delight of the audience) from passionate slow movements to staccato bowings and elaborate divisions, Ms. Blumenstock amazed with her technical precision and the vigor of her interpretation.

In these earlier baroque works, one movement flowed into the next without pause. Often dance-like in quality, these sonatas clearly differ from the high baroque works in which each movement was separated from the next.

To hear the two vocal compositions by Schütz, scored for two basses, was a rare treat. The psalm-based “I have been young, and now am old” calls for accompaniment by two violins and basso continuo, while “Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down” involves continuo alone. Max van Egmond, bass/baritone, and baritone William Sharp sang expressively and in perfect harmony, obviously enjoying the chance to perform together.

Next on the program was a work by Vivaldi, the Sonata in C Minor for oboe and basso continuo. Debra Nagy, baroque oboist, won the first prize in the 2002 ABS Young Artist Competition, and this reviewer was fortunate enough to witness the discovery that day of a talent more than ready to occupy a chair with ABS. The baroque oboe is a fiendishly difficult instrument to master, having only one key (for the bottom hole) and requiring many awkward cross fingerings for the complex music written for it. For instance, Vivaldi composed this sonata for a virtuoso oboist in the Dresden court orchestra. Ms. Nagy enjoys full command of her instrument and she played with an elegance and purity of tone that one rarely hears. The last movement was in a quick 6/8 tempo, and Nagy negotiated the tortuous phrases brilliantly.

After intermission the audience was treated to the Telemann Cantata “No bird can in distant flight exceed the eagle in soaring to heights,” entreating the listener to use the gifts he has, not to “bury” them. Alto Judith Malafronte sang with great grace and conviction, tastefully accompanied in the da capo arias by baroque flutist Sandra Miller. The baroque flute, or flauto traverso, is like the baroque oboe extremely difficult to master, and Ms. Miller is justly considered one of the finest performers of her generation.

The bird theme was continued with Biber’s charming A Major sonata. Each movement in this work for violin and basso continuo was named after a bird or animal: Nightingale, CuCu, Frog, Cock and Hen, Quail and Cat. The sonata closed with a Musketeer’s March and finally an Allemande. Violinist Robert Mealy was well supported by Mr. Jamason and cellist William Skeen. This amusing piece was intended to be a crowd-pleaser, and Mr. Mealy’s superb technique brought each of the animals to life. He would look at the audience now and then with a wry smile as he played a perfect frog, using dissonant descending, disjointed chords in random rhythm. The hen’s “pe-cock pe-cock” was perfect, and the cat’s “meow” was unmistakable. In the Musketeer’s March the harpsichord and cello became the drums, as the violin played the marching Muskateer’s song. At the end of the movement, the marchers faded into the distance, ending in a pianissimo and diminishing to silence.

Last on the program was the Bach’s Concerto in A Minor for flute, violin, harpsichord, and strings. To this reviewer this captivating piece was really a harpsichord concerto with accompaniment by the other instruments. It could have been the Seventh Brandenburg Concerto if Bach had written seven. Mr. Jamason finally had his chance to show off, as his right hand impeccably shared Bach’s sinuous melodies with the flute and violin. The unaccompanied harpsichord cadenza near the end of the piece shimmered in a cascade of notes.

The evening was an absolute delight, given the variety of instruments and voices and the level of performance. This reviewer looks forward to Handel’s oratorio “Esther” which will be performed July 19 by the American Bach Choir, soloists, and the Academy Orchestra.

The ABS presents concerts in Belvedere's St. Stephen's Church Dec. 14, Jan. 24, Feb. 21 and Apr. 25.