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Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
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 REVIEW
Green Music Center / Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie Fur Alte Musik Berlin

Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin

FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from ties or shawls to socks and glass frames, the musicians, standing to play, engaged the audience immediately with sonic elegance, musical humor and clarity of purpose.

The opening piece was Telemann’s Overture Suite in B-flat, "Les Nations.” This suite set the stage for the theme of "foreign affairs." After a festive, then dance-like overture and  two minuets played with exquisite sensibility, the music contained character pieces depicting "Turcs, Suisse, Muscovites, Portugais Anciens, Portugais modernes, the lame and the runners."  Musical humor abounded with bold, rough and dramatic leaps for the Turks, then mournful moments alternating with lightness for the Swiss. The Muscovites were introduced with a silly and ominous bassoon bell sound alternating cleverly with cello and bass.

Then Portugal had the musicians smiling as they traded dotted rhythms and sudden accented motifs in the lower strings. Finally, the runners were fleet and the limping ones not. The audience found it all was entertaining and full of jolly sounds in good company.

Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049, followed the Telemann.. This beloved piece, with three soloists, violin and two recorders (Anna Fusek and Xenia Loffler) juxtaposed with a larger string ensemble, soared in the Akamus performance and transcended traditional molds. The ensemble was clear and balanced. The musicians breathed and lived the rhythms and musical dialogues. The andante slow movement was heartbreaking in expressive power. Here, suspended  dissonances and chromatic gestures filled the air and were moving and consoling. It is said that Baroque audiences in the Baroque era were moved to tears by the affective power of music and this concert was testimony to that. The presto movement followed "attacca" with dazzling fugal counterpoint, jazz-like riffs and the solo violin bow of Mr. Forck seemingly on fire. Bach's compositional magic swept onward and went into ever-widening realms of imagination and musical discoveries.

A happy crowd returned after intermission for Handel's Suite from Almira, HWV 1, his first opera.. This suite was comprised of instrumental sections written at the age of nineteen. and contains an international group of dances including a set called "The Masque of the Continents.” The playing of the overture had grandeur, as did the wandering of the chaconne and a fast courante with Ms. Fusek’s recorder solo. The sarabande was outstanding for its plaintive and hushed beauty, allowing the lute solo responses between string motifs. A fast and noisy bourree led to a courtly minuet with two oboes, a lively Rigaudon, a Rondeau with busy cello and bass lines, and a Ritornello. Many varieties of instruments were featured.

Vivaldi's Concerto for two oboes in d minor featured Baroque oboists Michael Bosche and Xenia Loffler. There were beautiful interactions between soloists and orchestra. The largo with the two oboes and continuo was highly expressive and the allegro conclusion had exciting fireworks following unison statements. Vivaldi's music is always fresh.

Jean Fery Rebel, French composer in the court of Louis XIV, continued the afternoon's focus on the variety of dance forms of Europe. His suite, "Les Characteres de la Dance,” was performed in a lighthearted and joyous manner. The  fourteen dances were miniature treats linked together in a pastiche, some of the individual dances only eight measures long, with changes of meter and key defining the arrival of each next dance.

Loud applause and calls of bravo brought the orchestra back for a lively encore, “The Attack on the Windmill” from Telemann's seven-part “Don Quixote” Suite.