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Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Saturday, July 23, 2016
Festival Orchestra and Chorus, Alan Pollack, conductor

Conductor Alan Pollack

BACH'S MIGHTY MASS ENDS MENDOCINO FESTIVAL

by Paula Mulligan
Saturday, July 23, 2016

For the final concert of the Mendocino Music Festival July 23 Alan Pollack conducted the Festival Orchestra and Chorus in just one work, Bach’s B Minor Mass.  The orchestra, much reduced in size to suit the needs of the sparser scoring and the character of the composition’s period, ably supported the nearly 100 singers that had been prepared by chorus master Carolyn Steinbuck. 

The singing parts are complex and demanding, and much rehearsal was evident.  The singers included the Mendocino College Masterworks Chorale (directed by Les Pfutzenreuter) that recently performed the Mass in Ukiah, and two Mendocino coast choruses directed by Jenni Windsor and Cynthia Frank.  Having studied and learned the music in separate venues the three groups came together under Ms. Steinbuck’s direction and became this season’s Festival Chorus.  They did an impressive job with a difficult work.  Their intonation was very good with a few exceptions when some of the high notes in the soprano section tended to be slightly flat, they sang admirably, responding to Mr. Pollack’s dynamic contrasts which made the work come alive.

The Mass opens with a rousing Kyrie Eleison with no introduction before the singer’s entrance. The initial plea for mercy had both urgency and an imploring quality.  The orchestra here was primarily strings, with the two oboes d’amore tunefully supporting string choirs with a lovely counter-melody.

The soloists were highly professional in their performance.  The original second soprano was unable to perform, and just two weeks ago Bethany Coffland, who sang the alto solos, was asked to do the second soprano solo and duets as well.  Her warm and flexible tone was a pleasure to hear, and even the higher parts were sung without strain.  Her duet with Aurelie Veruni in the Christe Eleison was balanced and finely crafted. The cello continuo was played authoritatively but always subtly by Stephen Harrison, and the echo effects of forte cello phrases repeated softly supported the singers. The second Kyrie began with a strong statement from the tenors and basses, restating the urgent plea for mercy. This was followed by a joyous Gloria featuring piccolo trumpets, particularly the baroque trumpet played with great clarity by James Rodseth, and the timpani played by Tyler Mack.
 
The Laudamus te (We praise you) was beautifully sung by Ms. Coffland with Roy Malan playing a captivating violin obligato that used very little vibrato in keeping with the sound of the Baroque style.  The strings overall kept a smooth almost glassy tone that stayed within that style.  This was followed by the Gratias agimus tibi (We give thanks for your great glory) that again began with a strong statement by the men’s voices included a rousing crescendo in the whole chorus.  Domine deus featured a duet with the first soprano and tenor Brian Thorsett, whose voice seems ideal for sacred music with its lucid clarity.  A flute solo was played gorgeously by Mindy Rosenfeld that not only supported the singers but was clearly an integral part of the sound.

Qui tollis peccata mundi (Who takes away the sins of the world) is another minor key choral section which prominently featured flutes and strings but ended on a hopeful major chord.  Qui sedes at dexteram patris (Who sits at the right hand of God) was an alto solo by Ms. Coffland in her own range, and her warmth of her tone was a pleasure to hear, as was her duo with Thomas Nugent’s oboe d’amore. Quoniam tu solus sanctus (You alone are holy) introduced the bass voice of Paul Thompson whose mellow sound was supported by two bassoons and horns (led by Bill Klingelhoffer).  The first part of the performance concluded with the chorus rendition of Cum sancto spiritu (with the holy spirit).

Following intermission the the Credo (Apostle’s Creed) was heard with an orchestral introduction reminiscent of parts of the Mozart Requiem, and one is reminded that Bach was the composer on whom many subsequent composers built their compositional style.  It was gently pulsing and insistent, again with that transparent sound that so suits the sacred music of this time. The chorus followed this with a bright and outraged Crucifixus (He was crucified for us) featuring trumpets led by Mr. Rodseth.

Mr. Thompson was again heard in the last part of the Credo, stating the beliefs of the faithful. Underlying this was  a duet by oboe d’amore players Nugent and Beth Aiken, and the sound was prominent and fluid.  This instrument has a less nasal sound han the modern oboe.   Bassoonist Carolyn Lockhart combined the continuo part with Stephen Harrison that added a special  quality augmenting this duet. The Sanctus section included two choral components, the first containing smooth triplets that flowed throughout the chorus.  Here the supporting strings were reminiscent of the music of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos.

Concluding the Mass were the Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei and Dona Nobis Pacem.  The highlights were were the singing of Mr. Thorsett and an exquisite flute solo by Ms. Rosenfeld.

The Dona Nobis Pacem, an earnest plea for peace, seemed a fitting conclusion for this great work and for the 30th Mendocino Festival.