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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 ...
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.