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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
Church of the Incarnation / Friday, March 25, 2016
St. Cecilia Choir, Cantiamo Sonoma, Incarnation Chamber Orchestra and soprano Claire Frydenlund. Carol Menke, conductor

Carol Menke (left) lauds performers after March 25 Requiem performance

RUTTER REQUIEM PERFORMANCE ENNOBLES GOOD FRIDAY CONCERT AT INCARNATION

by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 25, 2016

There is a lot to like in John Rutter’s Requiem. Composed in 1985, it’s arguably the most performed large choral work of recent times, and it was a labor of love for choral director Carol Menke’s musicians in a memorable Good Friday concert in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation.

Splendid Requiems seem perfectly suited to Incarnation, and I recall recent Duruflé and Cherubini versions, and another Rutter directed by effervescent Ms. Menke three years ago. The March 25 concert before a standing room audience was a radiant transversal of the short 45-minute score that involved Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir, a tiny orchestra and soloist soprano Claire Frydenlund.

Rutter’s warmly accessible work comprises seven movements with Latin liturgy and additional texts in English, and in this performance 24 singers with Robert Young’s organ (often in pedal point) combined with six musicians under Ms. Menke’s deft control. Timpanist John Weeks, harpist Wendy Tamis and flutist Jane Shelly played well in the opening Introit and Kyrie, though choir entrances sporadically were ragged and the ensemble initially unsteady but quickly settled down.

The somber “Out of the Deep” began with a moving lament from cellist Laura McLellan that wove in and out of the vocal fabric, and the antiphonal effects in the small sanctuary were clear. Ms. Frydenlund’s soprano had greater resonance and command when she sang at the top of her range, over long organ, cello and harp phrases.

The celebratory Sanctus was enlivened all the more by Tim Dent's’ glockenspiel playing, a contrast to the dirge-like Agnus Dei with an extended and haunting flute solo by Ms. Shelly. Psalm 23 is the text for the bucolic sixth part (“The Lord is My Shepherd”) where the rich Andante vocal lines blossomed out of an extended fabric of elegant oboe playing by Laura Reynolds.

In the finale Lux Aeterna Ms. Frydenlund, singing from the choir, returned with a chaste duo with the flute and soft timpani. Here the music became glowing and presented a transfiguring effect on the audience.

After the last notes Ms. Menke’s hands slowly returned to rest, and as she turned to acknowledge the rapt hearers, there was no response for at least ten seconds before ovation broke the silence. The conductor, Sonoma County’s busiest and best-known soprano, has developed a penchant for producing captivating requiem performances that ennoble their calendar season, composer and community.