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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
Symphony
PEACE AND LOVE FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 04, 2018
Before the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 4 performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” Symphony CEO Alan Silow took a moment to acknowledge the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack and to observe that music offers a more peaceful and loving view of the world. Mr. ...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Numina Center for Spirituality and the Arts / Sunday, June 28, 2009
Chamber Music with the Locals: An Artful Afternoon
Music, art, and a wine reception
Performers: Carol Menke, soprano; Kathleen Reynolds, flute; Roy Zajac, clarinet; Jennifer Sills, viola; Norma Brown, piano

Flutist Kathleen Reynolds

NUMINA CENTER EVENT ENDS CONCERT SEASON

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, June 28, 2009

When does the local concert season actually end? Well, it usually is just before July 1, and it’s usually a hot day. Both benchmarks were satisfied June 28 when Santa Rosa’s Numina Center produced the last concert of the 2009 season, a chamber pot pourri, before 125 appreciative listeners.

Copland’s “As It Fell Upon A Day”, a c. 1923 bagatelle for clarinet, flute and soprano, began the program with insouciant flair. Joined by Santa Rosa Symphony musicians Roy Zajac (clarinet) and Kathleen Reynolds (flute), soprano Carol Menke gave a stylish performance that bantered with the two wind instruments. Written in 1923, just before the composer’s seminal Piano Variations, the piece fell gracefully on the ear and echoed the early English harmonies graced by the words from seventeenth-century poet Richard Barnefield.
Reynolds returned with pianist Norma Brown for one of the afternoon’s highlights, Southern California composer Michael Ruszczinski’s “Poem” (1996) for Flute and Piano. Here all the artistry of Reynold’s richly-colored tone was displayed, from the first note (a lovely decrescendo trailing off to piano) to the ethereal ending of the 10-minute work. It was a ruminating journey with varied degrees of attack, a sterling altissimo register and a chaste vibrato. There was not much for the piano to do in this work, giving only sporadic introductory or complimenting phrases. Ruszczinski’s music (not to be confused with the better-known composer Robert Muszynski) was not known before to me, and should have been.

Concluding the first half was a Mozart Trio in E Flat, K. 498, for the odd combination of piano, clarinet and viola. Violist Jennifer Sills met Brown and Zajac on even terms in the three-movement work, probably from 1786. One didn’t miss in this Trio the usual violin’s vocal line as Zajac sang vividly, albeit with judicious tempos. As with the piano sound throughout the day, clarity was lost in the lower registers due to an inadequate instrument. This is a charming work, the opening Andante showcasing a theme which was copiously varied. The Menuetto, although more forceful, carried forward the texture of the first movement, as did the finale. In the last Sill’s viola assumed a cello line at times, to fine effect, and the modulations at surprising times led to a summery conclusion.

Stravinsky wrote his Three Songs from Shakespeare in 1953, and again it was a novel combination of musicians: mezzo soprano, flute, clarinet and viola. These works stem from the time the Russian master was incorporating tone rows into his music. The viola’s plucked strings provided a spicy background to the nearly expressionist “sprechstimme,” reminiscent of Schonberg and Weill. The second song, “Full fadom five,” was based on the play “The Tempest” and ended sadly, Menke catching just the right measure of nostalgia.

Menke remained on stage and accompanied by Brown sang three songs from a composer she has been associated with for a lifetime, Schubert. Only one song was new to Menke’s public repertoire, the E-Flat Major “Lambertine”, from 1815 with words by Josef Stoll. More familiar fare included “Der Neugierige” (the sixth from the cycle “Die Schöne Mullerin”) and “Liebe Schwärmt auf allen Wegen.” All received Menke’s usual careful attention: crystal clear diction, seamless legato and deft characterization of love lost and happily found. Is there a North Bay soprano that sings as often and as well as Carol Menke?

The concert ended with another arcane chamber work, Florent Schmitt’s Sonatine et Trio, Op. 85, for clarinet, flute and piano. Schmitt’s music always seems ready for wider popularity, as with contemporaries Vierne and Françaix, but few outside of France know anything but a few orchestral pieces. Opus 85 is an upbeat work and received a lively interpretation, the opening moving briskly with Zajac in the forefront. There are bits of Impressionism scattered throughout, especially in the chromatic Assez zif second movement with its bantamweight ending, and all went smoothly. Reynolds and Zejac played a fetching and dreamy duet in the third movement, contrasting the exciting Animé that closes the piece. Here Brown’s undulating piano line deftly supported the clarinet and flute, both trading off short phrases and often playing unisons.

Billed as an “Artful Afternoon,” the concert concluded with a display of provocative African landscape photography by Lisa Gershman and a sumptuous outside buffet. The Numina Center covered all the bases, and will do it again August 23 with the same participants, save for Laura McLellan’s cello replacing the viola. The paintings that Sunday will be by artist Boris Illyin.