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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

Soprano Dianna Morgan

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 simple monophonic to elaborate settings. For a Dec. 15 concert at Schroeder Hall, Sonoma Bach director Robert Worth created a unique and splendid program using these “antique-yet-fresh” polyphonic songs by Northern European composers, including instrumental works for brass ensemble and organ variations.

For the concert’s first half the program’s structure followed sections of the mass: Prelude, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei. Each part was then filled with wonderfully chosen and combined arrangements for the various ensembles filling the stage, mixed and matched with originality. The Prelude commenced with a Canzon by Paul Peuerl, the Whole Noyse Brass Ensemble (cornets, sackbuts and curtal) creating sounds of warmth and sweetness in canonic phrases evoking human voices. This was followed by a carol from Piae Cantiones starting in vocal unison and then, incorporating instrumentalists, sprightly and dancing. Additional performers were from Circa 16000 and Northern Climes.

The Kyrie eleison was comprised of two choral arrangements by Michael Praetorius and by Mogens Pederson. This music had a variety of solo, choral and instrumental combinations. There were lovely harmonies and rhythmic freedom. The Henk Klop continuo organ, played by David Parsons, provided the Chorale variations arranged by Paul Siefert to round off each segment of the program. These were delightful interpretations. The Credo portion started with a chant and then an unusual blend of high voices and high pitched instruments. This was followed by Praetorius’ “ein Kindelein so loblich” and a version that was 16th-century anonymous. Next came a Pederson Credo and a somber variation on the organ. All the music was accessible to singers and listeners. The intonation and blend were excellent and the beauty of sound came into motion with a sense of ease and naturalness, never forced and always inviting.

The Sanctus selections continued with the attractive simplicity and freedom of arrangements, moving from chorale-like textures to charming dance rhythms. The Agnus Dei featured much unison singing and echo effects. It ended with Hieronymous Praetorius’ rich and powerful music, his “Dona nobis pacem” clear in texture and moving. The music seemed to combine with one’s thought processes and the final cadences brought out expressive inner voices. The audience was moved and enthusiastic. Worthy of special praise were Mr. Parsons and soprano Dianna Morgan.

After intermission Erasmus Widmann, an important composer in the development of instrumental ensemble music, was represented in a Canzon that was like a friendly contemplative conversation. There followed an energetic and syncopated Gaudate, a gentle Danket dem Herren, and Zu Lob und Ehren. The next set, Three Songs, continued the Christmas joy with selections by the composers heard before with new settings. The programming was like a fine tapestry of story in sound. The set of cradle songs had a gentle style, then unison passages, then solos, until all forces on stage combined for a glorious Hieronymus Praetorius Gaudate Omnes: “Rejoice and be glad…enter into his presence with singing. Alleluia.”

The fortunate community of performers and audience seemed to be enveloped in joy, hope and healing.

Appreciative applause brought Mr. Worth and singers back for an encore, a quodlibet from the 15th century by Paterson: in Dulci combined with Omnes Mundes. This was both interesting and humorous, “a stew of songs”.