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Recital
HOME RECITAL BACH COMPLETES HOLIDAY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 30, 2017
The just closing 2017 year was a calamity for many, but locally in music there were joys galore, and it was fitting Dec. 30 have the balm of two Bach’s violin sonatas in a private Guerneville home recital hosted by the eminent musician Sonia Tubridy. Violinist Richard Heinberg joined Ms. Tubridy in...
Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE WITH SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
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.