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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 it seems to be on almost every...
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...
Chamber
TRIO NAVARRO'S POPULAR FARE IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Long time Classical Sonoma readers may recall many Trio Navarro concert reviews that lauded their virtuosity and interest in rarely played repertoire. The April 8 concert in Schroeder Hall before 85 chamber music fans featured sterling performances but had a mostly conservative menu of popular trio...
Recital
KENNER'S ALL POLISH RECITAL HAS PADEREWSKI RARITY
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Kevin Kenner’s April 8 recital at Dominican University’s Angelico Hall had been advertised as all-Chopin, but he added a detour into another seminal Polish composer-pianist, Paderewski. Several of Mr. Kenner’s teachers were Poles, he speaks Polish, and he navigated at the piano both composers’ deman...
Symphony
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE VOICE AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, April 08, 2018
In an April 8 Santa Rosa Symphony concert filled to the brim with instruments--electric violin, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard samplers, harps, piano and myriad drums, gongs and bells, to say nothing of winds, brass and strings--the instrument that came out on top was the hum...
Chamber
VOM FESTIVAL TRIO CHARMS WITH CHAMBER MIX, AND HUMMEL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 31, 2018
At the core of the group of Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) musicians is an ensemble of trios and duos, and as a trio March 31 Festival founders cellist Tanya Tomkins and pianist Eric Zivian joined British violinist Monica Huggett for a chamber music concert in the Green Music Center’s Schro...
Choral and Vocal
GOOD FRIDAY REQUIEM FILLS INCARNATION
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 30, 2018
Maurice Duruflé’s short and intense Requiem has been heard in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation before, but the March 30 Good Friday performance was stripped down in the number of performers, combining Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir with musical underpinning from organist Robert Youn...
Symphony
HAMELIN'S HUSKY MOOD IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Convention in piano recitals has the artist coming on stage and playing. Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin walked on Schroeder Hall’s stage March 25 and didn’t play for six minutes, chatting with the audience. A risk for some artists. Then most programs include a contemporary or rarely play...
Recital
VIRTUOSIC VARIATIONS IN MORGAN'S SCHROEDER ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Organist Robert Huw Morgan’s artistry spun through the web of early variation form in a Mar. 18 recital on Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh organ. Mr. Morgan, Stanford University’s resident organist, performs a wide range of repertoire, but as he said in comments to the audience, he loves when h...
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.