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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 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
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
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.