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Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
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.