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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...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Green Music Center / Friday, April 05, 2019
Tallis Scholars

Tallis Scholars

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 built around the Catholic Mass movements, using portions of five different masses Palestrina composed, interspersed with other composers of the high Renaissance period. This is music created for the Vatican and most particularly the inspiration of the Sistine Chapel.

Many of the masses are in the “parody mass form”, based on a preexisting motet. The opening was a Kyrie from Missa Assumpta Est Maria. There is little vocabulary to adequately extoll this choir in the beauty off its music making. The blend, the balance, the phrasing, the clarity, all immersing us in the glories of truly great polyphonic a cappella choral music. The sound of the Tallis Scholars was embraced by Weill’s acoustics of the hall and created transcendant musical experiences: stillness in motion, freedom in order, individual and group supporting and lifting each other. The music and performers became one in a tapestry of intertwining voices, clear and warm.

The second piece was a setting of Regina Caeli by Crisobal De Morales, who was one of the Spanish composers to benefit from the patronage of Spanish popes. It is a hymn to Mary and was intriguing in its rhythms and syncopations. Nothing in the interpretation was forced. Dynamics and tempo were masterfully chosen and the music spoke for itself.
Eight of the singers presented the Gloria from Palestrina’s Missa Ecce Ego Johannes. Solo and ensemble alternated in this music of praise. Remarkable always were the clarity of text and beautiful music of changing vowels and new dimensions of sound coloring. The end was a gloriously triumphant Amen.

Quam Pulcra Est by Constanzo Festa and Lamentations by Carpenters brought smaller groupings off singers with delicacy of treble voices and then dark low sounds of desolation and weeping. Lamentations ended on a somber note with a slow and moving cadence. Palestrina’s Credo from Missa Papae Marcelli, also sung by eight, brought an element of storytelling into the music. The text was given dramatic portrayal and built to new, organ like texture and volumes. The Latin text is one of fervent belief and Palestrina’s music raises that faith and makes it a universal one, transcending specific religions.

After a short intermission, the Tallis returned with one of the most renowned pieces in the history of choral music, Miserere by Gregorio Allegri. This was a secret composition guarded by the Vatican and has a history of different versions and embellishments. What remains to this day is a piece that has enormous emotional impact and is unforgettable. This performance made use of placing different groups of singers on different levels of the hall and the acoustic effect added a very dramatic and poignant dimension. The building to a soprano’s high C’s on “Libera Me…” is heartrending.

Palestrina’s Sanctus and Benedictus from Missa Confitebor Tibi Domine uses a double choir and was full of dance and joy. This was followed by contemporary composer (b. 1984) Alexander Campkin’s Miserere Mei, using dissonance, tone clusters and drone effects to build to an anguished climax and then peace. Earliest of the composers on the program, Josquin de Prez was represented by a piece attributed to him, Inter Natos Mulierum. The piece is stark and reverent with use of small groupings out of eight voices. To finish the cycle, all 10 singers performed Palestrina’s Agnus Dei from Missa Brevis . The music shimmered in golden hues and looked inward like waves of meditative thoughts. This music is where the divine meets the earthly and we are all ennobled and grateful.

A standing ovation by the audience of 450 was enthusiastic and sustained, bringing the group back for many bows and then as an encore, Lotti’s Crucifixus in ten voices, showcasing the wonders and expressiveness of polyphony.

Singers included sopranos Amy Haworth, Emma Walsh, Charlotte Ashley and Emily Atkinson; altos Caroline Trevor and David Gould; tenors Simon Wall and Steven Harold; and basses Robert MacDonald and Simon Whitely.

Nicki bell contributed to this review