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Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
Chamber
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Recital
GLOVER'S ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHT'S CINNABAR RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Daniel Glover is arguably the busiest virtuoso pianist in the San Francisco Bay area, but rarely is heard in North Bay concerts. So 90 local pianophiles were anxious to hear him Feb. 17 in Petaluma’s charming small Cinnabar Theater, and they were rewarded with an eclectic program of sometimes unfam...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
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.