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Chamber
EXTRAVAGANT FUSION OF STYLES AT CHRIS BOTTI BAND WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Jerry Dibble
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Trumpeter Chris Botti still performs in jazz venues including SF Jazz and The Blue Note, but now appears mostly in cavernous halls or on outdoor stages like the Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center. He brought his unique road show to the packed Weill Hall August 12 in a concert of effusive e...
Chamber
SCHUBERT "MIT SCHLAG" AT VOM FESTIVAL MORNING CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
The spirit of 19th century Vienna was present July 29 on the final day of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival in the second half of July glittered with innovative programming and the new, old sound of original instruments played by musicians who love music with historic instruments. ...
Chamber
PASSIONATE BRAHMS-SCHOENBERG MUSIC CLOSES VOM FESTIVAL SUMMER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
An extraordinary program of chamber music by Brahms and Schoenberg attracted a capacity crowd to the Valley of the Moon Music Festival’s final concert July 29th in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. It opened with a richly expressive reading by Festival Laureate violinist Rachell Wong and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur...
Chamber
PRAGUE AND VIENNA PALACE GEMS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 28, 2018
The remarkable Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented a concert called “Kinsky Palace” July 28 on their final Festival weekend in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. Two well-known treasures and one lesser gem were programmed. Starting the afternoon offerings were violinist Monica Huggett and Fest...
Chamber
INNOVATIVE CHAMBER WORKS IN HANNA CENTER CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, July 22, 2018
The Valley of the Moon Music Festival presented a July 22 concert featuring three giants: Haydn, Schubert and Schumann, composers who altered music of their time with creative innovations and artistic vision. In the fourth season the Festival’s theme this year is “Vienna in Transition”, and VOM Fes...
Chamber
VIENNA INSPIRATION FOR VOM FESTIVAL PROGRAM AT HANNA CENTER
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, July 21, 2018
A music-loving audience filled Sonoma’s Hanna Center Auditorium July 21 to begin a record weekend of three concerts, produced by the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival’s theme this summer is “Venice in Transition – From the Enlightenment to the Dawn of Modernism” Prior to Saturday’s m...
Chamber
VANHAL QUARTET AT VOM FESTIVAL DISCOVERY AT HANNA CENTER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 15, 2018
A near-capacity crowd of 220 filled the Sonoma Hanna Boys Center Auditorium July 15 for the opening concert of the fourth Valley of the Moon Music Festival. This Festival presents gems of the Classical and early Romantic periods performed on instruments of the composer’s era, which presents a few ch...
Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
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.