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Opera
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Symphony
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Choral and Vocal
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Symphony
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Chamber
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Chamber
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Recital
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Symphony
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Choral and Vocal
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CHAMBER REVIEW

Soprano Christine Brandes

WORKSHOP FACULTY SHINES IN SSU CONCERT

by Joanna Bramel Young
Tuesday, June 16, 2009

San Francisco’s Early Music Society Baroque Workshop at Sonoma State was treated to a June 16 concert by the performing Workshop faculty, playing a variety of 18th Century works, featuring various combinations of strings, recorders, baroque flutes and oboes, harpsichord, chamber organ and voice.

The Ives Hall event opened with a charming sonata by Domenico Scarlatti, who is best known for his virtuoso harpsichord compositions. This sonata was performed on two violins, viola, cello and harpsichord, and Tanya Tomkins, a sought-after after baroque cellist, had a strong bass part that complemented the sparkling violin lines. The piece was as much Vivaldi as Scarlatti. Michael Sand, an early-music expert is on baroque violing technique, deftly demonstrated his convex bow technique, the bow delicately held by a few fingers and six inches above the frog.

Next was the “Sonata Terza” by Giovanni Battista Bassani (1657-1716), performed by Frances Blaker on a large tenor recorder recorder, with cello, viola da gamba and chamber organ. The organ and low recorder blended beautifully with their similar tone qualities. Kathleen Kraft, a Sonoma County resident, soloed on her baroque flute in a lively Vivaldi concerto, “La Notte.”

The second half began with a magical baroque dance performed with harpsichord by dancer Tanghao Tan, a Shanghai, China, resident. A man of small frame, Tan came on stage silently, dressed in baroque costume (long over jacket and black tights) and danced an elegant and restrained French Loure, accompanied by harpsichordist Phoebe Craig. Tan’s dance demonstrated the origins of ballet - its leaps, hand gestures and intricate footwork. When performing Baroque music, artists must always keep in mind the dances which the music often designed to accompany. This Baroque dance created a magical effect, eliciting absolute silence from the audience.

Besides the dance, the evening’s highlight was the Handel Cantata “Tra le fiamme” (Among the flames). Soprano Christine Brandes, sang the work, scored for solo voice, concerto viola da gamba (played beautifully by Mary Springfels), flute, oboe, recorders and continuo. The subject of the Cantata deals with man’s desire to fly, the flames being those associated with the flight of Icarus. It ends with “Man can only fly on wings of fancy”. Brandes’ singing was flawless and the demanding gamba part was energetically performed by Springfels.

There will be one more concert in this series (Tuesday, June 30, 8 p.m. in Ives) featuring Patrick Ball, Celtic harp; Drew Minter, countertenor; and Shira Kammen, strings. It celebrates the Renaissance and Medieval periods studied in the Workshop.