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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 / Sunday, December 15, 2019
Directed by Robert Worth. The Whole Noyse Brass Ensemble; Circ 1600; David Parsons, organ

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”.