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Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
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.