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Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
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...
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.