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Choral and Vocal
NOBLE BRAHMS REQUIEM PERFORMANCE CLOSES SONOMA BACH'S SEASON
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 01, 2019
Sonoma Bach, conducted by Robert Worth, presented a truly grand finale to their 2018-19 "Light Out of Darkness" season in two sold out Schroeder Hall performances June 1 and 2. The program "A Human Requiem" was received rapturously with a well-deserved standing ovation for the main work, Brahms' ...
Chamber
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six song...
Symphony
ALEXANDER TORADZE DELIVERS A LESSON IN SERENITY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 05, 2019
An entire concerto movement consisting of serene piano melodies over a soothing backdrop is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when seeing Shostakovich’s name on an orchestra program, but that’s exactly what pianist Alexander Toradze delivered--twice--at Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony c...
Symphony
MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON CLOSES WITH AUTUMNAL ELGAR AND THEATRICAL BEETHOVEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Mozart’s enchanting Overture to his opera The Magic Flute, a miniature tapestry of gems from the 1791 work, opened the Marin Symphony’s final concert of the 2018-2019 season. Under conductor Alasdair Neale, the playing of the sprightly seven-minute piece by a reduced-size classical ensemble sparkled...
Recital
SHAHAM-EGUCHI DUO'S EXCITING MUSICAL GENEROSITY IN WEILL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, April 26, 2019
Violinist Gil Shaham may be the most modest virtuoso on the concert stage today, and it is the great music he most wishes to put forward, never himself. Generosity, a quality he is known for, was abundantly clear in Weill Hall April 26 when he performed, with pianist Akira Eguchi, a generous program...
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 REVIEW
Church of the Incarnation / Friday, October 12, 2018
David Rothe organ; Ayako Nakamura, trumpet and flugelhorn; Carol Menke, soprano; Laura McLellan, cello

Trumpeter Ayako Nakamura

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 Trumpet and Organ” at Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation. Joining them for the finale, Handel’s “Let the Bright Seraphim,” were soprano Carol Menke, Incarnation Music Director, herself a graduate of the Chico State Music Department, and cellist Laura McLellan, who took on the work of an entire string section.

A concert mostly of music for trumpet and organ, no matter how heroic, can weary the ears, and the program was carefully arranged to avoid that. In tackling Telemann’s “Heroic Marches,” for example, the program separated six selections into two offerings, one Marches 4, 5 and 6 (“Tranquility,” “Armament” and “Love”) midway through the first half of the concert; and the other, Marches 1, 2, and 12 (“Majesty,” “Grace” and “Joy”) near the end of the second. In between there were excursions into solo pieces for organ (Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C Minor and Buxtehude’s Praeludium in G Minor), and Arutiunian’s Elegy from 2000, played on flugelhorn.

In a similar spirit, the concert opened with Martini’s Sonata in D Major, immediately followed by Hovhaness’ equally familiar but more contemporary and often darkly haunting Prayer of Saint Gregory, composed in 1946.

The performers, especially Prof. Rothe, offered helpful and insightful comments on the composers, the structure of the music and its history, including the differences between French and German instrumental reeds and, more tellingly, the contrast between the solo organ selection from Buxtehude’s later years and the far more youthful and less troubled offering from his admirer and occasional student, Bach.

Throughout the interaction between the trumpeter and organist was smooth and professional, not surprising since the duo has presented the same concert, with only minor variations, several times in and around Chico since the beginning of the summer. As with most live performances, some runs on the trumpet were less than fully realized and got partially lost in the large space of the church. But I will always trade the risks of a live performance for a digitally perfect recording of the same pieces, especially when the performance takes place in a lovely and sonically rewarding venue like the Incarnation, with its arching old-growth redwood rafters and delicately carved wood fixtures.

One or two quibbles: first, I would have preferred to hear the final notes of the trumpet passages in the baroque pieces held out full value, with more vibrato. As it was, they were too often played staccato or marcato, with a corresponding loss of resonance, beauty and passion. That flaw vanished during the Handel, when the call and responses passages with Ms. Menke’s vocal lines provided Ms. Nakamura a more reliable model to follow.

The performance could have benefited by a bit more passion in the trumpet and organ pieces overall. Baroque music is the work of the Enlightenment, the period that brought us Kantian logic, essayistic poems in heroic couplets, and the rise of the middle class. But for that very reason this music needs more fire and fervor in the interpretation than related music, not less. At times the playing seemed workmanlike and technically precise but lacking in the ecclesiastical impulse that provided the occasion for the pieces’ composition.

Finally, there was a need of amplification for the voice and cello in the final work. Both tended to be overpowered by the organ and trumpet. Handel’s Let the Bright Seraphim is a wonderful piece of music, particularly as a finale for the concert, but much of its power depends on the equal aural presence of all the parts.