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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
RECITAL REVIEW
MasterCard Performance Series / Sunday, April 24, 2016
Matthias Goerne, baritonel Alexander Schmalcz, piano

Baritone Matthias Goerne

A WANDERING MILLER IN SCHUBERT'S AGELESS CYCLE

by Mark Kratz
Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Green Center’s Weill Hall is a Sonoma County treasure that allows North Bay audiences to enjoy the world’s finest musicians against the backdrop of our grapevine-covered hills. German baritone Matthias Goerne and pianist Alexander Schmalcz presented a recital of Schubert’s song cycle "Die Schöne Müllerin" April 24 that exemplified skilled musicianship and artistry, and again proved the importance of a place like the Green Center.

Before the recital I noticed the diversity in the audience with a wide range of ages, and also recognized many faces of local vocal teachers, students and performers.

Die Schöne Müllerin is a cycle comprised of twenty individual songs, and the poems are by early 19th century German poet Wilhelm Müller. The story is about a wandering miller who happens upon a brook, which leads him to a mill. He gains employment at the mill and falls in love with the miller’s daughter. Though he never verbalizes his love, the young miller becomes jealous when the miller’s daughter becomes affectionate with a hunter. The wandering miller resolves to die in the brook. One is never certain whether the brook is friend or foe in this story.

From a technical view the cycle is demanding and lasts about an hour long with no interruption. The twenty songs take the singer through both high and low range extremities. Schubert’s music travels back and forth between light and dark sonorities and major and minor tonalities, demonstrating the emotions of the characters in the story. A singer must bring a skilled palette of vocal colors to this work. Mr. Goerne’s highly refined technique allowed for an effortless and polished performance.

The singer has a large lyric baritone voice. His lower range is rich and satisfying, while at the same time, he can create sweet resonant mixed voices in his top range that even tenors would be envious of. Mr. Goerne phrased in beautifully shaped long lines. A moment that embodied both delicate phrasing and gorgeously sung mixed voice was during the sixth song “Der Neugierige” (The Inquisitive one.) The miller only wants the brook to tell him, “Yes, the girl loves you.” The miller says to the brook, “O brooklet of my love, How silent you are today! Just one thing I want to hear, One tiny word, all around.” The end of this phrase was tender and magical.

Schubert wanted to move away from the popular classical period view of the piano as accompaniment and wanted to give the piano a voice equal to the singer. The accompaniments in this work are like a stream of water. It is constantly propelling the singer ahead as in the second song “Wohin?” (Where?) Mr. Schmalcz showed hypersensitivity switching between minor and major tonalities specifically in the eighteenth work “Trockne Blumen” (Dry Flowers), and his piano interludes in the sixteenth work “Die Liebe Farbe” (The Beloved Color) were hauntingly beautiful.

These sterling artists brought musical mastery to the Weill stage with their recital of Schubert’s 1823 masterpiece, and were in complete technical control and created an unforgettable afternoon of German lieder.