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Recital
SCHUMANN AND BARTOK HIGHLIGHT BRONFMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Lee Ormasa
Friday, April 21, 2017
Those people once addicted to the “Angry Birds” game application likely suffered an auditory flashback during the opening measures of the allegro from Bartok’s Suite, Op. 14, the opening work in Yefim Bronfman’s April 21 recital at Weill Hall. The repetitive opening figures of the Bartok were...
Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Recital
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpour’s March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
Recital
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
Recital
RISKY SPEED IN POTENT LUO RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Each half of pianist Wei Luo’s Schroeder Hall recital Jan. 22 contained beguiling interpretations and consummate technical command of Shostakovich and Albeniz works, but each half finished with less than exalted playing. Two of Shostakovich’s Op. 87 Preludes and Fugues opened the recital, from the ...
Recital
COLORFUL SCHUBERT AND CHOPIN WARM WEILL HALL IN AX RECITAL
by Nicki Bell
Friday, January 20, 2017
On a stormy winter evening Jan. 20 a rainbow of colorful Schubert and Chopin music came from the fingers, feet and heart of pianist Emanuel Ax.  Playing at the Weill Hall for the first time, this recital was a tribute to beauty in the arts. It conveyed the value and glory of balance, lyricism and el...
Recital
SOUND AND FURY IN MATSUEV WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 22, 2016
A touring virtuoso’s reputation often precedes him or her, and usually that’s a good thing. The reputation of a Renée Fleming or a Yo Yo Ma can guarantee a sold out hall, and possibly a great concert. But not always, and so there was some concern at Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s Oct. 23 Weill re...
Recital
ARTISTRY AND AMPLE RELAXED CHARM AT PERLMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Itzhak Perlman has fashioned a career that encompasses more than virtuoso violin performance, and includes teaching, narrating musical documentaries, score editing, humanitarian projects, charity events and an often an easy “ah shucks” demeanor that is always beguiling. With pianist Rohan de Silva ...
Recital
MORGAN'S ORGAN VIRTUOSITY SHINES IN ALL BACH RECITAL IN SCHROEDER
by James Harrod
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Robert Huw Morgan, Stanford University’s consummate organist, returned to the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall October 16 to play a thrilling recital of great Bach organ music from mostly Bach’s Cöthen period. Professor Morgan’s eclectic program included the Prelude and Fugue in E Flat Major, B...
RECITAL REVIEW
Redwood Empire AGO / Sunday, August 28, 2016
Paul Blanchard, organ

Organist Paul Blanchard

NORTH GERMAN CHORALES WERE MUSIC FOR THE SOUL AT AGO RECITAL

by James Harrod
Sunday, August 28, 2016

Organist Paul Blanchard played an outstanding and instructive recital August 28 at Santa Rosa’s First Presbyterian Church. It was the fourth and last in a series of summer Sunday recitals featuring organists of the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO), and underwritten by the Church.

“Music for the Soul - The Art of the North German Chorale” was an appropriate title for Mr. Blanchard’s recital, which opened with Mendelssohn’s D Minor Sonata, Opus 65, No. 6. The work based on the German hymn tune “Vater unser in Himmelreich” by Martin Luther. The Sonata was followed by a collection of six Bach chorale preludes, and one chorale prelude by Samuel Scheidt.

Mr. Blanchard introduced the program by asking the audience to stand and sing from the hymnal the hymn “Our Father who Art in Heaven” on which the sonata is based. The organist then played the multipart sonata (Chorale, Fuga, and Finale) with flowing note-perfect confidence, observing organ registration and phrasing authentic to the composer and the instruments of his time.

The short Bach works by demonstrated how the great composer used repeating short motifs within the preludes to express the moods of the chorales: “Have Mercy, Lord” (BWV 721); “Come Holy Ghost” (BWV 631); “O Lamb of God” (BWV 618); “I call to Thee” (BWV 639); “We are here, Lord Jesus” (BWV 633); and finally “Christ Lay in the Bonds of Death” (BWV 625). These Preludes were played with clarity and simplicity using both perfect Baroque manual touch and selection of organ stops. The beautifully varied registration chosen by the organist made each prelude uniquely expressive.

The less familiar Scheidt “Cantio Sacra,” SSWV 106, based on the tune “Warum betrübst du Dich,” closed the program. This is a 12-verset composition from an earlier musical time, and once again Mr. Blanchard’s educated choice of organ stops made each of the sections fresh to the ear.

The performer, Music Director at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Healdsburg, gave the audience excellent verbal explanations of the music, bringing everyone from the late Renaissance through the Baroque and into the Romantic musical era in reverse chronological order! It was a very satisfying recital.