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Chamber
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 08, 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...
Choral and Vocal
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...
Chamber
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...
Chamber
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...
Chamber
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 09, 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 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...
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”.