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Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 9, 2020
The Feb. 9 performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony offered a healthy dose of 21st century music firmly bound to the 19th. Matt Browne’s first symphony, “The Course of Empire”—based on a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School of American painting in the 1820s—emp...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW

Tallis Scholars

SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 5, 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