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Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
Symphony
PEACE AND LOVE FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 04, 2018
Before the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 4 performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” Symphony CEO Alan Silow took a moment to acknowledge the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack and to observe that music offers a more peaceful and loving view of the world. Mr. ...
Chamber
ATOS TRIO IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 04, 2018
When the ATOS Piano Trio planned their all-Russian touring program at their Berlin home base, it had a strong elegiac, even tragic theme that surely resonated with their Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience Nov. 4 in Mill Valley. Comprised of Annette von Hehn, violin; Thomas Hoppe, piano; and...
Chamber
ATOS TRIO IN OCCIDENTAL CHAMBER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 03, 2018
When the Berlin-based ATOS Piano Trio entered the cramped Occidental Performing Arts stage Nov. 3, the audience of 100 anticipated familiar works in the announced all-Russian program. What they got was a selection of rarely-plays trios, with a gamut of emotions. Then one-movement Rachmaninoff G Mi...
Symphony
MIGHTY SHOSTAKOVICH 10TH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Just two works were on the opening program of the Marin Symphony’s 67th season Oct. 28, Tchaikovsky’s iconic D Major Violin Concerto, and Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony. Before a full house in the Marin Center Auditorium conductor Alasdair Neale set a judicious opening tempo in the brief orchestra i...
Symphony
VIVALDI FOR ALL SEASONS IN WEILL BAROQUE CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, October 27, 2018
The Venice Baroque Orchestra, a dozen superb musicians that include strings, harpsichord and recorder, played an uplifting concert Oct. 27 of mostly Vivaldi sinfonias and concertos. The Weill Hall audience of 600 had rapt attention throughout, and the playing was of the highest musical level. This r...
Recital
LIN'S PIANISM AND PERSONA CHARM SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 21, 2018
In somewhat of a surprise a sold out Schroeder Hall audience greeted pianist Steven Lin Oct. 21 in his local debut recital. Why a surprise? Because Mr. Lin was pretty much unknown in Northern California, and Schroeder is rarely, very rarely sold out for a single instrumentalist. But no matter, and...
Chamber
HEROIC TRUMPET AND ORGAN MUSIC AT INCARNATION
by Jerry Dibble
Friday, October 12, 2018
The strong connections between Santa Rosa’s musical community and California State University Chico were on display Oct. 12 as David Rothe, Professor Emeritus in the Chico Music Department, and Ayako Nakamura, trumpet with the North State Symphony, presented a concert titled “Heroic Music for Trumpe...
RECITAL REVIEW
Redwood Empire AGO / Sunday, June 25, 2017
Robert Young, organ

Organist Robert Young

STYLUS AND PLAYING FANTASTICUS IN YOUNG'S ORGAN RECITAL

by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, June 25, 2017

Organist Robert Young gave a wonderful tour through the stylus fantasticus (fantastic style) organ literature June 25 playing a recital on the Casavant organ at Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Young recently became the organist at the Church and previously served for 20 years as Music Director at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Kenwood.

The artist designed the program around two of the giants of the stylus fantasticus, Buxtehude and Georg Böhm, both of whom had a profound influence on the development of Bach’s music that was featured in the third part of the program. Mr. Young gave informative commentary throughout the recital explaining how each piece exhibited the fantastic style as well as the relationship between the three featured composers. History now shows that Bach likely studied with Böhm and it’s known that the young Bach walked more than 250 miles to hear Buxtehude play.

Buxtehude’s Praeludium in G minor (BuxWV 149) is one of the best-known works of this style and was the perfect way to open the program. It is a text book example, starting with a free improvisatory section of technical brilliance for the hands and feet, which is followed by a quieter fugal section, then a quick ritornello bridge to a grand fugue and improvisatory ending. Mr. Young brought the piece to life with his spirited playing and expert choice of different registrations (sound color) for each section.

He finished the Buxtehude section of the program with one of his most beautiful chorale preludes, “Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist,” BuxWV 208 (We now beg the Holy Spirit), which has the chorale melody as an ornamented solo in the right hand with imitative accompaniment in the left hand and pedal. It was the perfect antidote to the opening piece as Mr. Young used the quieter stops of the organ with a nice mutation and tremulant to give the melody an otherworldly feel.

Next came the first piece by Böhm, his chorale variations on “Auf meinen lieben Gott” (In my beloved God I trust). Böhm is credited with developing the Chorale Partita form and this set of four manuals-only variations was a perfect little example of his craft. While less free than some of the wild Praeludia of the time, it definitely exhibited elements of the fantastic style with the first variation opening with a flourish of running sixteenth notes and an ornamented melody followed by a fugal variation, which Mr. Young nicely contrasted with a spikey articulation on the first and a stately elegance for the fugue as well as with his choice of registration, choosing overtone laden mutations for the first and clean, clear principals for the fugue. The third variation was a bicinium (two-part piece) with an interesting basso continuo voice, highlighted nicely with a cornet stop, which accompanied a mostly unadorned melody in the right hand. The set finished with a grand trio that devolves back into a few measures of technical bravado showing that even when trying to be more restrained, the fantastic style still comes through!

The Böhm section finished with one of his non-partita chorale preludes, “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ” (Praise be to you, Jesus Christ) which provided a welcome moment of rest after the energetic partita. Mr. Young played on the quiet bourdon stops of the organ with a lovely legato touch for the accompaniment and a pleasantly nasal reed for the plaintive character of the melody.

Then it was time for Bach, but youthful pieces that still clearly exhibit the influences of the stylus fantasticus masters, Buxtehude and Böhm.

Bach’s “O Gott, du frommer Gott,” BWV 767 (O God, you righteous God) is one of his chorale partitas with many of the same figurations and textures of the Böhm example earlier in the program, but Bach is always extending things, including the chorale and eight variations! It opens with a simple statement of the choral which Mr. Young played on the organ’s singing principal sounds and continues through eight wonderfully different manuals-only settings of the chorale from two-part to trios to a grand finale which some have conjectured was influenced by the French dialogue organ style with contrasting forte and piano phrases. Mr. Young kept the listener’s attention with a wide array of registrations giving us a nice tour of the Casavant’s tonal palette.

The Bach section closed with his two settings of “Jesus Christus, unser Heiland,” BWV 665 & 666 (Jesus Christ, our Savior) from the Leipzig Chorales. Mr. Young’s interpretation of BWV 665 was very dramatic with near full organ in the manuals for the running sixteenth notes and a resounding reed highlighting the quarter note melody in the pedal. It was everything people expect when they think of organ music and Mr. Young did not disappoint. BWV 666 is more introspective with a lilting 12/8 meter and the melody unadorned in the soprano. The artist’s choice of a simple quiet flute stop allowed the listener to focus on the beauty of the figuration which moves from tranquil eighth notes in the beginning to flowing sixteenths in the last half of the piece.

The concert closed with Böhm’s most enigmatic piece, his “Präludium, fuge und postludium” in G Minor, which is equally effective on the organ or harpsichord. It is a wild piece and Mr. Young even commented that it looks crazy on the page and it took him a while to get his head around the work. The Präludium throws you off from the beginning as it starts on beat two of a triple meter and continues building up a relentless series of half-note chords from a single bass note up to six voices. The fugal section doesn’t provide any rest as the spritely subject keeps the energy going right into the postludium, which provides a mirror to the präludium with a series of downward sixteenth note arpeggios that drive to a chordal full-organ adagio. Mr. Young warned us not to clap too early as once we think the piece is over, there will still be the postludium to come.

It was a great end to the concert and the large audience showed their appreciation with enthusiastic applause. A member of the Vestry at Incarnation thanked Robert and said it was wonderful to have someone who can make their organ sing so beautifully each Sunday. There was no encore, which was welcome given the heat of the afternoon.