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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...
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...
Symphony
PEACE AND LOVE FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 04, 2018
Before the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 4 performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” Symphony CEO Alan Silow took a moment to acknowledge the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack and to observe that music offers a more peaceful and loving view of the world. Mr. ...
RECITAL REVIEW
Sebastopol Center For The Arts / Friday, September 16, 2011
John Boyajy, voice and piano; Nicki Bell, piano

John Boyajy in Sebastopol Sept. 16

BOYAJY'S VOICE AND PIANO ARTISTRY CAPTURES SCHUBERT IN SEBASTOPOL RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Friday, September 16, 2011

John Boyajy is one of the Bay Area’s most active pianists, but he seldom ventures out of his Marin County lair to present his legendary eclectic recitals of famous and rarely-heard composers. Sept. 16 found him at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, with colleague Nicki Bell, to play familiar music in a resounding and unique way.

What was unique about the evening? First, Mr. Boyajy began with a solid and texturally clear reading of Schubert’s lyrical A Flat Major Impromptu from Op, 142, with ample power in the climaxes, but that reading quickly moved to three wonderful Schubert songs: Heidenröslein (D. 257), Morgengruss (D. 795) and Die Forelle (D. 550). Pretty conventional in many ways, even in their transcriptions for the piano by Liszt and Godowsky. But then, with Ms. Bell at the piano, Mr. Boyajy sang each of the three songs. When has an instrumentalist in a Sonoma County recital turned also to the art of the voice? Should a Carol Menke recital, after vocal beauties, spotlight her playing Scarlatti on the piano?

The Schubert playing itself was capable and the pianist explained to an audience of 25 the lure of Schubert’s beguiling art for Liszt and Godowsky. These transcriptions are far more complicated than the original piano parts, with simultaneous legato and staccato in the hands and intricate polyphony, and the pianist captured the spirit of each. The eighth of the 20-piece set from “Die Schöene Müllerin,” Morgangruss was the best sung, with a surprisingly fast tempo. The piano part occasionally covered Mr. Boyajy’s voice, and though he sings with admirable German and diction, he tends to run out of vocal strength at phrase endings.

Following intermission Liszt’s Valse Oubilée No. 1 and the Hungarian master’s transcription of Schubert’s Soirée de Vienne no. 6 were performed. The compositions are opposites, the “forgotten” Valse a product of Liszt’s stark late harmonic palette, and the Soirée a champagne toast to old Vienna, full of charm and a tricky set of variations demanding careful digital attention. Mr. Boyajy’s fingers, though not note perfect, were up to the task and the playing was one of the high points in the recital. At times the artist’s lingering over a particularly choice tune disturbed the line, but also it reminded one of Rosenthal’s famous and delightfully schmaltzy recording of the Soirée.

Bach’s iconic Chaconne in D Minor, from the second Partita for solo violin, completed the recital. Here Mr. Boyajy combines the works’ transcriptions by Siloti and Busoni with a few additions of his own, and the complete package had considerable dramatic force. The rhythmic and thematic contents are those of Bach, with the pianistic demands those of modern virtuosity. The sonority demanded by the artist, especially in powerful bass chords, overwhelmed the small hall piano and led to sections of muddy textures. But in every way the majesty of the great work was captured by Mr. Boyajy, right up the closing where several additional notes were added. Transcriptions can allow no less!

No encore was offered.