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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' ...
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...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Choral and Vocal
GOOD FRIDAY REQUIEM FILLS INCARNATION
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 30, 2018
Maurice Duruflé’s short and intense Requiem has been heard in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation before, but the March 30 Good Friday performance was stripped down in the number of performers, combining Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir with musical underpinning from organist Robert Youn...
Choral and Vocal
SOMBER GERMAN POETRY IN SONG AT ROSCHMANN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Two weeks does make a hefty difference. Feb. 3 saw the diva Renée Fleming beguile a full Weill Hall house in a mix of Brahms, Broadway show songs and Dvorak chestnuts. It was a gala event with couture gowns and colorful extra-musical communication between singer and her rapt audience. Dorothea Rösc...
Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Choral and Vocal
A MAJESTIC ABS MESSIAH ORATORIO RESOUNDS IN WEILL DEC. 18
by Joanna Bramel Young
Sunday, December 18, 2016
San Francisco’s American Bach Soloists (ABS) presented Handel’s incomparable oratorio Messiah, HWV 56, to a sold out Weill Hall Dec. 18. It was a celebratory afternoon. In the fashion ABS audiences have learned to expect, conductor Jeffrey Thomas brought out the best of orchestra, chorus and solo...
Choral and Vocal
EARLY CHRISTMAS SEASON TRIUMPH FOR 24 ANGELS IN WEILL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Weill Hall Nov. 27 was packed with an audience of young and old excitedly waiting for an early holiday concert by the Vienna Boys Choir, and this esteemed Choir is a five-hundred year institution which is based in a school of 100 choristers. Four touring groups divide their time between studying and...
Choral and Vocal
EASTER AND ASCENSION ORATORIOS SOAR IN ABS MARIN CONCERT
by Joanna Bramel Young
Friday, April 22, 2016
Three baroque composers were brought together April 22 at the American Bach Soloists‘ offering of oratorios: Buxtehude, Johann Kuhnau and Bach. In Belvedere’s St. Stephen’s Church the ABS highlighted the sequence of influence for these three masters, displaying stunning choral singing, virtuoso in...
Choral and Vocal
CHANTICLEER SINGS TO THE MOON IN WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, April 16, 2016
The renowned male a cappella  Chanticleer choir presented an "Over the Moon" program April 15 at the Green Music Centers Weill Hall.  The audience, including many choral music cognoscenti, was entranced by a varied and enriching program spanning centuries and continents. The theme of the evening was...
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