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Recital
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...
Symphony
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 09, 2020
The Sunday, 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 ...
Symphony
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 02, 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...
Symphony
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 01, 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...
Opera
EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT
by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 2020
“Beautiful, strange, and unnatural…” said orchestra conductor Thomas Conlin when speaking of the tenor voice. One of the coveted voice types of the opera world, the tenor voice is known for it’s piercing tones and soaring, unnatural high notes. The iconic image of the Pagliacci clown (in the famed...
STRING QUINTETS, RARE AND FAMILIAR, IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, January 26, 2020
One hundred attendees in Schroeder Hall were treated Jan. 26 to a pair of stirring two-cello string quintets: Schubert’s much beloved masterpiece Quintet in C (D. 956), and Catoire’s Quintet in C minor (Op. 16), the latter mostly a forgotten work written in 1909. The performers were violinist Victo...
Chamber
MOSTLY MOZART WITH A LITTLE BEETHOVEN AND SOR IN NAPA
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 26, 2020
Sharing the stage with a local diva is a tough task for even seasoned musicians, but Napa College faculty soprano Christina Howell stole the show Jan. 26 when the Napa Valley Music Associates presented an eclectic program of mostly Mozart music. Somehow compositions of Sor and Beethoven joined the m...
Chamber
CHALLENGING WORKS IN GOULD TRIO'S MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 26, 2020
The Gould Piano Trio, founded 28 years ago by violinist Lucy Gould, has been one of the UK’s most prestigious ensembles. Its January 26 performance in Mill Valley Chamber Music Society’s series demonstrated how richly they deserve that reputation. The concert, held at the Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Chu...
Chamber
LOCAL MUSICIANS SHINE IN MTAC BENEFIT CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 25, 2020
After a fire-related postponement of four months, the Sonoma County Chapter of the Music Teachers Association of California Jan. 25 gave their annual scholarship benefit in a charming Sebastopol home. Showcasing local musicians in an intimate setting with two pianos, the first half highlights inclu...
Symphony
MOZART MASTERWORK HIGHLIGHTS MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 25, 2020
Excitement was palpable in the Marin Civic Center Auditorium Jan. 25 as the Marin Symphony in splendid full force took the stage for a richly textured Masterworks II program. Prevented from giving its first Masterworks offering by the wildfire-caused blackouts last October, the orchestra returned wi...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Sonoma Bach / Friday, January 10, 2020
Sonoma Bach. Robert Worth, director. Anne Laver, organ

Organist Anne Laver

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 Sweelinck, performed by Anne Laver in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall.. This was Ms. Laver’s third Schroeder visit, and during her informative introductory remarks and organ demonstrations she explained the design of Schroeder’s Brombaugh was inspired by Sweelinck’s Amsterdam organ of the 1540s. The core principal sound is double piped and can have a human vocal quality. Sweelinck was a great organist and published both organ and choral arrangements in Amsterdam, copied then by students who preserved his scores.

Echo Fantasie in C was the opening piece of this concert, and as the name implies, this work makes much use of echo techniques in its contrapuntal style. Sweelinck’s Dutch organ and its rich tonal world inspired this echo technique in both instrumental and vocal works. The program continued with many alternating choral and organ selections. “Mein junges Leben hat ein End” started with choral unison, followed by organ variations and choral arrangements in harmonies and counterpoint. The organ sound began gently and simply, gradually adding bright tones, high bells, sprightly dancelike moments and finally multilayered orchestral complexity. The choral sections, sung by the Sonoma Bach Choir, were lovely in character and presentation.

The next organ set, Variations on Ballo del granduca (Ballet for the Duke), were connected to dance music of the period. First came a brassy theme, then much embellishment, rushing scales and passagework and duets on different manuals. This was exciting virtuoso composing by Sweelinck and virtuoso performing by Ms. Laver.


“Petite accipietas”  from 1619, from a collection of five-voice motets, was full of joy, using a basso continuo part, echoes and dancelike shifts to triple time. It ended with a satisfying and elegant Alleluia. Next was a presentation of Psalm 23, first for unison choir, then a vocal -sounding organ verse and settings from the Geneva Psalter interspersed with organ verses. Dutch sacred music was often based on adaptations of 150 psalms from the Geneva Psalter of the 1500s.

The second half commenced with Sweelinck’s Hexachord Fantasia. Based on an ancient six-note theme, the composer weaved contrapuntal ideas from Italy, Spain and England into a dynamic whole, increasing in complexity and tempo until a final grand stretto section where the hexachord theme enters in overlapping phrases. Unison choir initiated the traditional “Uns ist geborn ein kindllein,” a lilting Christmas melody, followed by arrangements featuring two part textures. Pavana Lacrimae, after Dowland’s “Flow my Tears”, was dark and gentle, and featured muted organ colors. The next selections were anonymous dances from a collection dated 1599 under the name Susanne von Sold, and notable as the first known collection of Dutch keyboard music. A pleasant scene portrayed in music followed, “Hodie beata Virgo Maria”, that was dignified and ornamented with echo and birdlike calls.

“Wie Schon leuchtet der Morgenstern”, one of the most beloved chorale melodies in music history, was played and sung in a variety of musical arrangements, including ones by Philip Nicolai and Dierck Sweelinck, son of Jan Sweelinck. The choir created a fine blend with the organ and they did indeed “let the sweet music ring out all rich in joy”.

This concert was inspired in concept and realization and seemingly brought peace and happiness to the 225 in the Hall.  Following applause, a lovely encore was presented: “All in a Garden Green”.