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Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Symphony
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
Recital
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpour’s March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
Recital
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
Chamber
CONSUMMATE ENSEMBLE FROM THE MIRÓ IN WEILL
by Sonia Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Sunday, March 05, 2017
A March 5 Weill hall audience of 350 leaned in to share an intimate musical space and to hear the Miró String Quartet’s sterling concert. Starting with Haydn's Op. 20, No. 4, the four musicians seemed to want listeners to be enveloped in their music. The Miró plays with the feat of being four dist...
Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
Chamber
MUSIC AND ART MELD IN ZUCKERMAN TRIO CONCERT
by Nicki Bell
Friday, February 24, 2017
A Feb. 24 Weill Hall concert by the Pinchas Zuckerman Trio juxtaposed formidable music making with palpable associations about visual art. Brahms’ C Minor "Sonatensatz” (Scherzo) is a short youthful work for violin and piano, and was an opening call to action. Lively and vigorous playing alternated...
Chamber
THREE BEETHOVEN TRIOS BEGUILE AUDIENCE IN FEB. 19 WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Chamber music concerts featuring one composer can be tricky, but the Han/Setzer/Finckel trio made a Feb. 19 Weill Hall audience of 500 hear and to a degree see the boundless creativity of Beethoven. The G Major Trio, Op. 1, No. 2, opened the afternoon’s Beethoven odyssey and one wonders why it is t...
Chamber
AUTHORITATIVE BARTOK HIGHLIGHTS TETZLAFF VIOLIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Christian Tetzlaff’s Feb. 18 violin recital rolled along with lively and fresh readings of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert when the specter of Bartok’s granitic Second Sonata intervened. The sonic shock to the audience of 250 in Weill was palpable. Composed in 1923 the 20-minute two-movement work i...
Symphony
WHAT SOUND DO STAR-CROSSED LOVERS MAKE?
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so the Santa Rosa Symphony feted the occasion by telling and retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet, a tale ever the more poignant during our era of stark divisions. The first telling was from Berlioz; the second from Prokofiev. In between was Brahms’ monu...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Sonoma Bach / Friday, November 20, 2015
Sonoma Bach Choir, Live Oak Baroque Orchestra. Robert Worth, Director. Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin

Sonoma Bach Conductor Bob Worth

A STERLING REQUIEM PERFORMANCE IN TRES

by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 20, 2015

Mounting a production of the Mozart D Minor Requiem (K. 626) poses difficulties absent from the usual 50-plus minute performance time. Historical questions abound concerning authorship, placement of musical sections and even the murky commissioning process.

Director Bob Worth moved to solve these difficulties in a Nov. 20 concert in Sonoma’s St. Andrew Presbyterian Church by a unique trifecta. First he conducted the Sonoma Bach Choir and Live Oak Baroque Orchestra in short snippets illustrating the composition. More formerly, he then presented the Requiem with four soloists as Mozart composed the work, abruptly stopped on the death date of Dec. 5, 1791.

Following intermission Mr. Worth conducted the Requiem in its most common format, as completed by Joseph Eybler and Mozart’s associate Franz Süssmayr. Süssmayr’s compositional style and handwriting are quite close to that of Mozart, and the music in both versions unfolds with uncanny similarity.

Acoustics in the white-hued a-frame church had little reverberation and from my seat featured the low string frequencies; with the delightful exception of Elizabeth Blumenstock’s solo violin passages. The orchestra’s standout instrumental sections were the trombones of Richard Van Hassel, Ernie Rideout and Bruce Chrisp, and two basset horns (played by Diane Heffner and Thomas Carrol). Mr. Worth controlled precise attacks and releases all evening and the 46-member Choir sang with power and stylistic penetration. Among the soloists (soprano Dianna Richardson, alto Karen Clark, tenor Kyle Stegall and bass Ben Kazez) Ms. Clark was especially prominent with distinct Latin diction and elegant phrasing.

In the final 50-plus minute Requiem the ensemble’s energy didn’t flag and the understated support of timpanist Kevin Neuhoff and Henry Lebedinsky’s continuo organ were crucial. This is a declamatory work laced with sadness and the four soloists, positioned between the conductor and the audience of 150, were everywhere strong. The pulsating four-chord passages, repeated three times in the Offertorium, were telling. There are short fugues throughout this piece, many leading to lovely descending lines ending in trombone solos (not always together, with Mr. Chrisp the standout) and surging bass and cello playing.

A standing ovation came with the last cutoff and Mr. Worth happily acknowledged selected Orchestra members and his soloists. It was a convincing combination of scholarly presentation and captivating music making.

The multi-faceted Requiem was repeated Nov. 22 in Petaluma’s St. Vincent de Paul church.