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Chamber
BEETHOVEN FEATURED IN SF TRIO'S OCCIDENTAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 19, 2020
Conventional repertoire in uncommonly good performances highlighted the San Francisco Piano Trio’s Jan. 19 concert in the Occidental Center for the Arts. Haydn’s No. 44 Trio (Hob. XV:28) came from late in his long career, when he was in and out of London, and received a sparkling reading that featu...
SIMONE PORTER ASPIRES TO STARDOM WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 12, 2020
The Sibelius violin concerto is one of several mountains that violin soloists need to ascend before they can lay claim to stardom. Hundreds make the attempt every year, but only a few reach the top. Simone Porter, who played the concerto with the Santa Rosa Symphony on Sunday afternoon, got close bu...
Choral and Vocal
ORPHEUS OF AMSTERDAM'S MUSIC IN SCHROEDER ORGAN CHORAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, January 10, 2020
“All over the map.” Sonoma Bach, directed by Bob Worth, has taken its audiences this season on journeys through many centuries and many lands. The programming is fresh and intriguing and the performers varied and creators of beauty and interest. The January 10 program was centered on organ works by...
Choral and Vocal
OLD NORTH GERMAN CAROLS IN SONOMA BACH'S SCHROEDER CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, December 15, 2019
“Cast off all sorrows…also dance in heavenly fashion.” A volume called Piae Cantiones was printed in 1582 in North Germany, lively songs going back to the 14th century, and this treasure trove provided material for numerous composers to arrange Christmas carols over following generations, from simp...
Symphony
EVERLASTING LIGHT AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Monday, December 09, 2019
The Mozart Requiem includes four intermittent vocal soloists, but the real star is the choir, which is featured in almost every movement. That stardom shone bright at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s memorable Requiem performance on Monday night. The soloists were good, but the choir was superb. Located wi...
Symphony
UNFINISHED AND FINNISH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 08, 2019
Having a new resident conductor on the podium for the Ukiah Symphony was an attractive invitation for a long-delayed visit to Mendocino College’s Center Theater Dec. 8. The insouciant Les Pfutzenreuter recently retired after decades of conducting the ensemble, replaced by Phillip Lenberg who also j...
Choral and Vocal
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), m...
Symphony
ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL EXCITEMENT IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 16, 2019
Beginning with a scintillating reading of Rossini’s Overture to the Opera “Semiramide,” the Sonoma County Philharmonic performed a splendid program Nov. 16 in the Jackson Theater, and featured two additional works, one showcasing the winner of the San Francisco Conservatory’s Young Artist Award. It...
Chamber
SPIRITUAL LATE BEETHOVEN QUARTET HIGHLIGHTS MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 10, 2019
Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131, called “unparalleled in its inexhaustibility” by critic Thomas May, is a daunting challenge. Orchestral in concept, filled with wit and charm, melancholy and fury, it almost overwhelms listeners. Playing the frenetic Scherzo, a viol...
Symphony
MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANCE IN UNIQUE SRS CONCERT IN WEILL HALL
by Terry McNeill
Monday, November 04, 2019
It was a concert full of surprises Nov. 4 as the Santa Rosa Symphony responded to the area’s wild fires and evacuations with challenging, songful and somewhat unique music in Weill Hall. The last of a three-concert series titled "Master of the Modern Banjo" is reviewed here. The evening began with...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Sonoma Bach / Saturday, November 16, 2019
Sonoma Bach Choir. Robert Worth, director. Barefoot All-Stars Viol Consort; The Whole Noyse Brass Ensemble

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.