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JOYFUL ACCOLADES FOR BROWNS IN SRS VIDEO GALA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
As with many area musical groups the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled several virtual concerts, beginning Oct. 11 in Weill Hall. In a program surprise, a pre-season Gala honoring Norma and Corrick Brown came Sept. 12 on YouTube, and proved to be an attractive if not especially riveting 70 minutes ...
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...
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 2, 2020
Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert. In his eighth conducting season with the So C...
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 1, 2020
The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, gave a concert of enormous energy and emotional impact on Feb.1 to a small audience in Weill Hall. This orchestra has been a major cultural force in Poland since 1949, playing under many renowned conductors and has been committed to pr...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Sonoma Bach / Saturday, October 26, 2019
Live Oak Baroque Orchestra. Robert Worth, director. Green Mountain Consort. Kevin Cooper, lute; Christopher Fritzsche, countertenor; Maria Caswell, viola; William Skeen and Mary Springfield, viol; Phebe Craig, organ; Aaron Westman and Anna Washburn, violin

Counter Christopher Fritzsche

INSPIRED SONOMA BACH CONCERT IN GLAZER CENTER

by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, October 26, 2019

On October 25 Sonoma County residents were being put on notice that due to the wind-whipped and rapidly spreading Kincade Fire in Geyserville, many parts of the county would soon need be evacuated. Sonoma State University had closed the campus for the weekend, which meant that Sonoma Bach's season opener, scheduled for the afternoon of the 26th, would have to have to be moved from Schroeder Hall to a different venue.

That venue luckily turned out to be the Glaser Center in downtown Santa Rosa, a comfortably sized and appropriately intimate space for the Green Mountain Consort, Live Oak Baroque Orchestra, countertenor Christopher Fritzsche and lutenist Kevin Cooper to work their magic in a program of lovely secular Elizabethan music, led by Robert Worth.

The recital was entitled This Scepter'd Isle, and featured the works of four Elizabethan all-stars: madrigals and songs by Byrd and John Wilbye, dance music of Antony Holborne, and lute pieces and songs by Dowland. The recital was by turns light and lively, dreamy or melancholy, beautifully balanced and paced. It was cleverly organized thematically by text and mood into nine groups of three pieces: a vocal solo followed by a dance piece and then a madrigal for either four or five voices, with additional opening and closing pieces for each half of the program.

For a group of worried people both onstage and off (me included), it was an oasis of inspiring virtuosity and beauty.

Live Oak members included violinists Aaron Westman and Anna Washburn; Maria Caswell, viola; William Skeen and Mary Springfels playing viol; and Phebe Craig, organ, and they played the dances of Holborne brilliantly and were joined by guest lutenist Kevin Cooper who also played the theorbo. Mr. Cooper mostly played the long-necked theorbo, which served as a plucked or strummed bass anchor for the instrumental ensemble, and switched to the smaller bent-neck lute with its brighter, dryer quality for his solo accompaniments. His featured solo, Dowland's beloved "Lacrimae pavan", brought the room to a sonic `standstill. One Dowland song in the second half, "Go crystal tears", featured the countertenor accompanied by viola and viols, and gave a plainer, ever so slightly harsh and emotionally honest quality that I loved.

The song texts, all anonymous save Byrd's "My mind to me a kingdom is" by Sir Edward Dyer, were very entertaining, very contemporary, and prove the old saw that the more things change, the more they stay the same. They ran the gamut of emotional content, from playful to enamored to miserable. I was glad to have the printed texts in hand because due to multiple voices all going together, often at delightfully breakneck speed, plus staggered entrances and high-sitting vocal lines, understanding the words was challenging.

Guest counter-tenor Christopher Fritzsche brought a beautifully clear and resonant mezzo-soprano to the proceedings, joining the Consort as the fifth voice on several of the madrigals. The high tessitura of his solos, particularly Dowland's beautiful "Come heavy sleep", did not at all strain his resources. He sang with great evenness of tone, with agility to match his beauty of his sound, and he sailed through the demanding program.

The complex demands of one-on-a-part madrigal singing are formidable. Pure tone, pitch, blend, and perfect ensemble are needed to create an experience of effortlessly casual musical making. It goes without saying that the Green Mountain Consort (Dianna Morgan, soprano; Ruth Escher, mezzo-soprano; Paul Haile, tenor; and bass Robert Worth) possess all the above qualities, and they performed superbly one tasty madrigal after another. With Mr. Worth needing only to begin and end pieces, they sang virtually flawlessly as one mind, one voice.

Ms. Morgan's pure and flexible soprano soared over the lower voices, but never dominated the group. I heard every voice distinctly: Ms. Escher's warm mezzo, Mr. Haile's bright high tenor and Mr. Worth's mellifluous bass. Mr. Fritzsche joined as alto on several five-part numbers.

Altogether it was a charming and inspiring afternoon, the audience dispersed seemingly fortified to take care of homes and families (some to evacuate a mere twelve hours later), uplifted by this splendid concert.