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Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now it seems to be on almost every...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
Chamber
TRIO NAVARRO'S POPULAR FARE IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Long time Classical Sonoma readers may recall many Trio Navarro concert reviews that lauded their virtuosity and interest in rarely played repertoire. The April 8 concert in Schroeder Hall before 85 chamber music fans featured sterling performances but had a mostly conservative menu of popular trio...
Recital
KENNER'S ALL POLISH RECITAL HAS PADEREWSKI RARITY
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Kevin Kenner’s April 8 recital at Dominican University’s Angelico Hall had been advertised as all-Chopin, but he added a detour into another seminal Polish composer-pianist, Paderewski. Several of Mr. Kenner’s teachers were Poles, he speaks Polish, and he navigated at the piano both composers’ deman...
Symphony
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE VOICE AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, April 08, 2018
In an April 8 Santa Rosa Symphony concert filled to the brim with instruments--electric violin, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard samplers, harps, piano and myriad drums, gongs and bells, to say nothing of winds, brass and strings--the instrument that came out on top was the hum...
Chamber
VOM FESTIVAL TRIO CHARMS WITH CHAMBER MIX, AND HUMMEL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 31, 2018
At the core of the group of Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) musicians is an ensemble of trios and duos, and as a trio March 31 Festival founders cellist Tanya Tomkins and pianist Eric Zivian joined British violinist Monica Huggett for a chamber music concert in the Green Music Center’s Schro...
Choral and Vocal
GOOD FRIDAY REQUIEM FILLS INCARNATION
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 30, 2018
Maurice Duruflé’s short and intense Requiem has been heard in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation before, but the March 30 Good Friday performance was stripped down in the number of performers, combining Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir with musical underpinning from organist Robert Youn...
Symphony
HAMELIN'S HUSKY MOOD IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Convention in piano recitals has the artist coming on stage and playing. Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin walked on Schroeder Hall’s stage March 25 and didn’t play for six minutes, chatting with the audience. A risk for some artists. Then most programs include a contemporary or rarely play...
Recital
VIRTUOSIC VARIATIONS IN MORGAN'S SCHROEDER ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Organist Robert Huw Morgan’s artistry spun through the web of early variation form in a Mar. 18 recital on Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh organ. Mr. Morgan, Stanford University’s resident organist, performs a wide range of repertoire, but as he said in comments to the audience, he loves when h...
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.