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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
Church of the Incarnation / Friday, March 30, 2018
Cantiamo Sonoma, St. Cecilia Choir. Carol Menke, conductor. and soprano. Robert Young, organ; Thomas Hart, baritone

Cantiamo Sonoma and St. Cecilia Choir at Good Friday Duruflé Requiem (JCM Photo)

GOOD FRIDAY REQUIEM FILLS INCARNATION

by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 30, 2018

Maurice Duruflé’s short and intense Requiem has been heard in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation before, but the March 30 Good Friday performance was stripped down in the number of performers, combining Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir with musical underpinning from organist Robert Young.

Before a packed Incarnation audience Carol Menke directed the 43-minute performance that was the composer’s 1948 transcription from the original versions that use an orchestra of various sizes. Here the reduced forces favored the singers, as Mr. Young (the Incarnation staff organist) never covered the music, and at full forte volume the organ sound was often submerged. At this time the church floor could be felt to vibrate under the power of the vocal ensemble.

Arguably the North Coast’s best permanent concert choir, Cantiamo gave a dramatic and aggressive character to the nine movements, as the music is far removed from the ethereal Fauré Requiem, or the wonderful Cherubini Requiem that Ms. Menke directed in the same church several years ago. The score is based almost solely on Gregorian Chant, and was sung in Latin.

There were two short solos, one by bass baritone Thomas Hart and one by soprano Ms. Menke, and cellist Laura McLellan in the Pie Jesu movement played a lovely solo weaving in and out of Ms. Menke’s vocal line. Cantiamo’s tenor section was especially strong in the Domine Jesu Christe and Sanctus movements, with eruptions of sound that could be shrill but robustly penetrating.

Though the organ mostly is subsidiary in this work, it frequently introduced themes, resolved small dissonances and provided postludes. Highlights for me were the somber Kyrie with veiled sound and interesting organ registrations, and the Libra me section with glorious ascending chords and captivating phrasing from the sopranos.

The quietly shimmering ending of the final fading In Paradisum movement seemed to catch the audience by surprise, and elicited long applause.