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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...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
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...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Cantiamo Sonoma / Friday, March 29, 2013
St. Cecilia Choir, Cantiamo Sonoma and the Incarnation Chamber Orchestra. Carol Menke, conductor. Clarie Frydenlund, soprano, Marilyn Thompson, organ.

Carol Menke (l) with musicians and singers March 29 at Incarnation

MASTERFUL GOOD FRIDAY CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday concerts are always spiritual but often can be monotonous and overly long. Cantiamo and the St. Cecelia Choir’s exceptional program March 29 in Santa Rosa’s packed Church of the Incarnation was anything but mundane, and perhaps too short.

Conductor Carol Menke fashioned a balanced evening, concluding with John Rutter’s animated Requiem, written in 1985 for medium choir, small instrumental ensemble, organ and soprano soloist. The opening Introit (Requiem Aeternam) and Kyrie were beautifully sung by the 30-voice Choir, based at Incarnation, the music beginning menacingly with John Week's hushed timpani playing and a continuo organ part performed by Marilyn Thompson. In the small church the sound had a burnished quality. The following “Out of the Deep” (based on Psalm 130) featured a long and beguiling cello solo by Laura McLellan, winding in and out of the vocal fabric.

Soprano Claire Frydenlund was the soloist in the third-movement motet, Pie Jesu, her high tessitura gleaming and clear. Ms. Menke paced each section with care. The cutoffs were sharp, the conductor at times holding the sound for many seconds and stopping it with a tiny hand movement.

Instrumental charm came forward in the Sanctus and Benedictus with elegant playing from oboist Laura Reynolds and flutist Kathleen Reynolds, punctuated by Tim Dent's crisp glockenspiel execution. Through these movements, harpist Wendy Tamis’ solos could be heard over the high volume of the choir, and her soft arpeggio playing was refined.

Psalm 23 in the sixth movement and the Lux Aeterna finale were captivating, with Ms. Frydenlund’s singing again complementing the polyphony of the choir. It was a polished and even sumptuous performance, guided at every turn by the conductor’s graceful control of phrase.

Sonoma County’s 19-member Cantiamo sang works by Lassus, Rutter, René Clausen, Paul Mealer and Frank Ticheli in the program’s first half. Separated by 413 years, Rutter and Lassus’ music feature striking modulations, especially at the end of the “Open Thou Mine Eyes” and “Taedet Animan Meam,” respectively. The theme throughout in these two works, and in Clausen’s "Deep River," is peace, and Cantiamo captured a lovely tranquility. Ticheli’s “There Will be Rest” ends with the words “I shall find the crystal of peace, above me stars I shall find,” and the calming effect for the beginning of a three-day religious period was palpable.

Numina Center for Spirituality and the Arts produced the concert.