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Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Recital
PIANISTIC COMMAND IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, October 08, 2017
Nikolay Khozyainov’s Oct. 8 debut at the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall was one of those rare moments in a young artist’s career when a performance approaches perfection. From the opening notes of Beethoven’s A-Flat Major Sonata (Op. 110) through a delightful recital ending transcription, the ...
RECITAL REVIEW
Numina Center for Spirituality and the Arts / Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Etienne Walhain, organ

Organist Etienne Walhain

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 resources of Incarnation’s Casavant organ to great effect, creating unique and interesting registrations (making, for instance, a gross tierce where none had previously existed!).

The program began with the blazing passage-work of Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 903. The scale and arpeggio figurations passing between the hands and going from upper to lower manuals were impressive, if perhaps a tick too rapid for complete enjoyment. Throughout the program, it was his pedal technique which stood out. He showed no upper body movement as he negotiated astonishing pedal figures with total clarity and no apparent difficulty.

We were then treated to some novel programming, hearing two Vivaldi concertos as transcribed by Bach and Mr. Walhain’s teacher Jean Guillou. The first, in a minor (BWV 593), was transcribed by Bach to better understand the Italian style of composition, and the second, in D major, was arranged by Guillou, a virtuoso organist. Although they are rather light music, they gave ample opportunity for clever and interesting registrations and again pointed to his faultless and easy pedal technique. With the three opening pieces, the audience was happy to hear Baroque-era German and Italian pieces played on a French disposition instrument by a talented Belgian romantic-style organist.

The final two pieces on the program seemed to bring out the best playing from this organist. The Piece Heroique by his countryman, Franck, was a lesson in romantic style playing. His handling of the form and texture of the work was outstanding, and understanding of the work’s complexities was enhanced throughout by his expert use of rubato. For me the highlight of the program was the Reger’s monumental Introduction and Passacaglia. It is a great work of art, and the artist played it with the respect it deserves, and the abandon it demands. Again, he made the thorny pedal part sound easy. Not one of the wild harmonic moments was lost and when near the end, he pushed the “tutti” button, we were lifted from our seats.

For an encore, he played a transcription (again by Guillou) of a toccata by Prokofiev. It was a typical virtuosic potboiler with presto passagework, lickety split repeated notes, hands crossing over and under each other and flying double-pedal work.

Thanks are due Incarnation Parish and Numina Center for Spirituality and the Arts for bringing this wonderful artist to Santa Rosa.