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Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
RECITAL REVIEW

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.