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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

Conductor Robert Worth

PRAERTORIUS IN RENAISSANCE GLORY FROM SONOMA BACH

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, November 16, 2019

Sonoma Bach Choir, in collaboration with Barefoot All-Stars Viol Consort and The Whole Noyse Brass Ensemble, presented “Sing Glorious Praetorius!” November 16 to an almost full Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. The Soloists were soprano Dianna Morgan, Christopher Fritzsche, (countertenor), mezzo-soprano Shawna Herve, Paul Haile and Tim Mason.

In an introductory talk, conductor Bob Worth spoke with warmth and wit, and gave biographical and musicological background to this unique concert that featured just the music of the Renaissance composer Michael Praetorius. Praetorius based most of his vocal compositions on the German chorales sung in church, and these hymns were remarkable in their direct simplicity, and proved a basis for innovation by many composers, including Bach a century later. Though living in Germany, Praetorius was inspired by innovations in Northern Italy which included the grand antiphonal music of Venice as well as figured bass traditions. An idealist, who believed in music as a force for good, Praetorius was also prolific in composing and writing treatises.

With the fifty member choir, four soloists, the consort of viols, the brass ensemble and organ arranged on stage, the program began with a Christmas medley, “Freut euch ihr lieben Christen”. This was a performance of joy and lightness. No dramatic extremes were needed to covey to listeners the music’s virtuosity and beauty. The sounds were varied but always clear and richly layered. The program was assembled of choral and solo pieces interspersed with a variety of instrumental dances from Terpsichore, a publication by Praetorius of over 300 dances. These included courantes, gaillardes, ballets, a spagnoletta, sometimes for the viols, other times for the brass, and then often both combined. The vocal and instrumental music selections were admirably supported by Phebe Craig, playing a Dutch organ. Following graceful ballet music for the viols, choir and soloists sang “Hallelujah! Christ its erstanden” with lovely textures as the five soloists and choir traded the music back and forth, brass choir included. Schroeder Hall itself was a participant in the music, as its acoustics and modest size allowed the performers ample resonance and lucidity. 

Then came a Magnificat with interpolated chorales, then “Vom Himmel hoch komm ich her,”  “Puer natus in Bethlehem” and “Omnis mundus jocundetur”. Ms. Morgan was compelling in her solos and the duos with Mr. Fritzsche were one highlight of the concert.

After intermission more musical riches were displayed. First to be performed was “Nun lob mein Seel den Herren” with three soloists and choir, and then “La canarie” for viols with its charming echo effects and fading phrases. “Das alte Jahr its nun vergahn”, a courante “O Lamm Gottes unschuldig, and a galliarde led up to a high point in the concert, the composer’s wonderful “Wachet Auf, ruft uns die Stimme”. This chorale, with soaring energy seemingly inspired Praetorius to heights of musical eloquence and compositional ingenuity. In the second verse there was surprising counterpoint of choir sopranos and altos, uniquely lovely. “Verleih uns Frieden”, with Mr. Fritzche weaving his vocal spells, sounded as a heartfelt prayer for peace. The choir had a beautifully consistent and unified sound throughout the afternoon, with excellent section blend and clear diction. 

“Jubilieret frohlich’”, the final work, brought all musical forces together singing “Rejoice at all times joyfully and with sound….”. There was one unannounced encore.