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Chamber
PERFORMER AS PROMOTER: CLARA SCHUMANN AND MUSICAL SALONS CLOSE VOM FESTIVAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 28, 2019
The July 28 closing performance of the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival could have been subtitled "Friends", as it was devoted to works by both Clara and Robert Schumann, and those of their friends and protégés Brahms and virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim, with whom Clara toured extensively...
Chamber
ROMANTIC CHAMBER WORKS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 27, 2019
Now in its 5th season the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented July 27 a concert titled “My Brilliant Sister,” featuring Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s compositions for combinations of voice, fortepiano and strings. Fanny and her brother Felix were close, and Felix occasionally published ...
Symphony
ROMANTIC DREAMS AT THE MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kayleen Asbo
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Romanticism, contrary to many popular perceptions, wasn’t simply about diving into the habitat of the heart. Romanticism began as a literary movement that elevated the power of nature as a transcendent force and sought with keen nostalgia to rediscover the wisdom of the past. The Romantics in both l...
Chamber
CHAUSSON CONCERTO SHINES IN A VISIONARY'S SALON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Ernest Chausson’s four-movement Concerto in D Major for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet (1891) is neither concerto nor sonata nor symphony, but it somehow manages to be all three, especially when played with fire and conviction by an accomplished soloist. Those incendiary and emotional elements w...
Chamber
EUROPEAN SALON MUSIC CAPTIVATES AT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Two stunning programs of 19th and 20th century chamber music were presented on July 21 and 28 as part of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival at the Hanna Center in Sonoma. Festival founders and directors pianist Eric Zivian and cellist Tanya Tompkins were both on hand to contribute brilliantly at ...
Chamber
ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL COMBINATIONS IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 20, 2019
A Lovely summer afternoon in Sonoma Valley, an excellent small concert hall, enthusiastic audience, exciting musicians and creative programming with interesting story lines. All these were combined July 20 at a Valley of the Moon Festival concert titled “An Italian in Paris.” This is the fifth seaso...
Opera
'ELIXIR' A WELCOME TONIC IN SPRIGHTLY ANNUAL MMF OPERA
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 19, 2019
In most of the Mendocino Music Festival’s 33 seasons a single evening is given over to a staged opera, with bare bones sets, lighting, costumes, minimal cast and short length. No Wagner or Verdi here, no multiple acts and complicated production demands. Light and frothy are the usual, and so it wa...
Recital
PUNGENT WALTZES AND VIRTUOSITY IN LADEUR'S SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
San Francisco based pianist Jeffrey LaDeur has become one of the most sought-after North Bay virtuosi, and cemented that reputation July 17 in a short but eclectic recital in Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village Chamber Music Series. Before 140 in the Village’s auditorium Mr. LaDeur began with Schubert...
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...
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