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Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Recital
NOVACEK'S 2ND HALF TRIFECTA SCORES AT MENDO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Modern classical piano recitals are in two parts, with longer and perhaps more profound music proceeding perhaps shorter and usually stimulating lighter fare. In John Novacek’s July 13 Mendocino Music Festival recital the best playing came unexpectedly in the eight abbreviated works comprising the ...
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.