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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Santa Rosa Junior College Chamber Concerts / Sunday, October 09, 2011
Carol Menke, soprano; Marilyn Thompson, piano

Soprano Carol Menke

RESPLENDENT MENKE-THOMPSON DUO OPENS SRJC CHAMBER SERIES SEASON

by Mary Beard
Sunday, October 09, 2011

Newman Auditorium was the venue Oct. 9 for the first concert in the Santa Rosa Junior College's Chamber Series season, an elegant recital by soprano Carol Menke and pianist Marilyn Thompson. An enthusiastic full house greeted the two musicians, the singer a SRJC faculty member and the pianist a professor of music at Sonoma State University.

The program was long but the compositional variety kept listener interest high. Art songs of the Romantic and Contemporary periods are meant to be duets, not melody and accompaniment, and both artists played these roles to perfection. They were always a team, playing off one another, complimenting their partner and sensitive to the whole of the parts. Ms. Thompson’s pianism was often virtuosic, and always sensitive with clean articulation and occasionally lush. Her playing was never in the background, always supportive and only on rare occasions (in the opening "Love Went a-Riding" of Bridge) covering her singer.

Arguably the North Bay’s most performing and popular vocalist, Ms. Menke has an ideal voice for art songs and chamber music. It is not large but very expressive and sensitive, with a sound that is beautifully resonant and having faultless intonation and clear diction. Lyricism is her specialty with a masterful sense of line and a quality that often is bright silvery. Occasionally in dramatic sections Ms. Menke pushes the line a bit, creating a breathy edginess to her voice. But this is rare, and is always followed by a flowing lyrical part of velvet sound. Her art is one of focus and refinement.

As the program unfolded Ms. Menke’s melismatic passages and ornaments were precise, as heard in Ravel’s “Tripatos.” Roger Quilter’s “Love’s Philosophy” was delicately shaded and sung with a full and free voice. “Mondnacht” by Schumann was an exquisite duet of soaring ethereal sound from both musicians. Ms. Thompson’s piano line in Marx’s “Hat dich die Liebe berührt” had moments when it greatly swelled, overtaking the end of the vocal phrase and then pulling back as the vocal line again entered, akin to a Wagnerian phrase. There were similar swellings in Poulenc’s “Reine des mouettes” to telling excitement.

But all was not dramatic, as humorous and even capricious songs were offered, including “Memories: very pleasant” of Ives, Poulenc’s “Paganini” and the sprightly “Mausfallen-Sprüchlein” of Wolf. Ms. Menke was obviously enjoying the playfulness of these songs, and finished the group with a hauntingly gorgeous performance of Duparc’s “Chanson Triste.”

The recital’s last group contained three jazz pieces, all of which found Ms. Menke connecting with the jazz idiom and using straight tone at times, and with sweet sensuousness. The words were pellucid and everywhere understandable.

There were no encores, perhaps because of the length of the program, but the audience left deliciously sated with the kaleidoscopic sounds of these two superb musicians.