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Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
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.