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STUNNING LINCOLN CENTER CONCERT LAUNCHES FIFTH WEILL SEASON
by Philip Beard
Saturday, October 01, 2016
Happy times in a packed Weill Hall Oct. 1: The insouciant, irrepressible, immensely talented trumpeter / bandleader Wynton Marsalis and his powerful, polished Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra opened Weill’s fifth season with a superb program of jazz classics and classics-to-be that set a high bar for t...
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LATE BEETHOVEN EXPLORED AT MMF CONCERT IN PRESTON HALL
by Paula Mulligan
Thursday, July 21, 2016
The Mendocino Music Festival performance in Preston Hall July 22 was titled “Late Beethoven,” and was the final presentation in the tribute to the composer that was part of this year’s Festival.  Pianist Susan Waterfall has been giving a series of lecture dealing with Beethoven’s life and music, and...
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ANGUISH AND TRIUMPH IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL'S BIG TENT
by Kayleen Asbo
Sunday, July 10, 2016
The Mendocino Music Festival is highlighting Beethoven this summer, and July 10’s program in the tent could have appropriately borrowed the subtitle from Jan Swafford’s 2014 biography of the composer, Anguish and Triumph. The Festival’s second classical concert paired two Beethoven works wit...
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ARCANE ARENSKY TRIO HIGHLIGHTS NAVARRO'S SEASON OPENING CONCERT IN SCHROEDER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 04, 2015
One would have thought that the glitz surrounding Lang Lang’s 101 Pianists Foundation program Oct. 4 in Weill would have upstaged chamber music at the same time in nearby Schroeder Hall. Not to worry, as the Trio Navarro continues to perform sometimes-neglected gems from the trio literature with a ...
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TRUMPET ON FIRE
by Philip Beard
Friday, September 11, 2015
Chris Botti’s show at SSU’s Green Music Center Sept. 11 was a real barnburner. The highly acclaimed, much-traveled trumpeter--his group is on the road over 300 days a year, playing always to large audiences--was making his second appearance at Weill Hall and Lawn, two years after his sold-out first ...
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GRAND GESTURES IN VIEAUX'S WEILL HALL GUITAR RECITAL
by Gary Digman
Friday, October 18, 2013
Weill Hall is an imposing building situated on the Sonoma State campus, and still has that “new car smell” about it. I was looking forward to hearing guitarist Jason Vieaux’s performance October 18, not only to hear the artist but to experience the acoustics of the hall about which I have been heari...
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BOTTI'S BAND TRUMPETS HIGH-WIRE DERRING DO IN SUMMER-ENDING WEILL CONCERT
by Philip Beard
Sunday, August 25, 2013
No question about it: Weill Hall was the happening place to be on Aug. 25 with trumpeter Chris Botti and his entourage delivering two and a half hours of jazzy, rocky, funky, high-wire derring-do to an audience that loved every minute of it. Almost. The performance was stunning both figuratively an...
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LATE WINTER TURNS TO SPRING IN CREATIVE ARTS SERIES CONCERT
by Michael J. Mello
Sunday, February 24, 2013
A concert of Renaissance and Celtic songs for voice, lute and recorder was presented by soprano and lutenist Doris Williams with the assistance of recorder virtuoso Claudia Liliana Gantivar and mandolinist Mike Bell. The Feb. 24 event in Santa Rosa’s Resurrection Parish Church was part of the Creat...
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MESSIAEN PIANO PRELUDES HIGHLIGHT SMITH RECITAL IN SANTA ROSA
by Beth Zucchino
Sunday, January 27, 2013
Marin Pianist Jean Alexis Smith played a stunning recital Jan. 27 in the first 2013 concert for the Creative Arts Series. In remarks to the Resurrection Parish audience, the pianist explained that although her program has a range of styles from Baroque to Contemporary, all the composers involved wr...
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TANAKA PLAYS AUTHORATIVE MOZART IN CREATIVE ARTS SERIES FORTEPIANO RECITAL
by Richard Wayland
Sunday, April 29, 2012
A pleasant surprise greeted me April 29 when I attended a fortepiano recital at Resurrection Parish in Santa Rosa. The venue was simple, modern, beautiful, and seating was comfortable. The décor reminded me of Pi, a Parisian artist of the fifties. The performer for the season’s final Creative A...
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Creative Arts Series / Sunday, January 27, 2013
Beth Zucchino

Recording Engineer Greg Bottini, Jean Alexis Smith and Organist Evelyn Schlager

MESSIAEN PIANO PRELUDES HIGHLIGHT SMITH RECITAL IN SANTA ROSA

by Beth Zucchino
Sunday, January 27, 2013

Marin Pianist Jean Alexis Smith played a stunning recital Jan. 27 in the first 2013 concert for the Creative Arts Series. In remarks to the Resurrection Parish audience, the pianist explained that although her program has a range of styles from Baroque to Contemporary, all the composers involved wrote these works between 18 and 20 years of age.

Ms. Smith's first offering was Bach’s A Minor Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543, in the Liszt arrangement. This piece was originally an organ composition written during Bach’s Weimar period, and the Prelude is written in a Toccata-like manner. It easily lends itself to a variety of stylistic interpretations that frees the performer to play in different temps or styles. The pianist played with crystal clear articulation and maintained an organ "feel" on piano. Her style was bold and reminiscent of Glenn Gould's Bach playing, and her bass octaves evoked an organ sound.

The Fugue, written in 6/8 time, is in a much stricter tempo, usually felt in two. It is yet another example of Bach’s brilliant ability to construct a fugue based on gorgeous sequences which finally resolve to the Toccata-like cadence of the Prelude. Ms. Smith played the plaintive minor-key fugue as if she were singing the parts vocally.

Bach’s Capriccio on the Departure of a Beloved Brother (S. 992) followed and Ms. Smith's intricate counterpoint playing never overwhelmed phrases, yet the performance deftly conveyed the composer’s rounded and lyrical tones. Even in Bach's lament, she played with empathy and yet without sentimentality.

Two Chopin Nocturnes came next, short pieces from the Polish composer where the use of a melody is accompanied by loose broken chord structures played with ample damper pedal. Ms. Smith had a very unique interpretation of Chopin. In the E minor Nocturne, Op. 72 No.1, her rhythm was devoid of the usual rubato which was refreshing. Her right hand chords were ethereal and her chromatic scales appeared effortless. One might play some of the bass more delicately, yet the opening section was beautifully understated. She also played the dramatic and haunting C Minor Nocturne of Op. 48.

Messiaen’s Eight Preludes belong to his youthful works, and though the composer was only 20 in 1929 when he composed them, he had already begun to set up harmonic “modes of limited transposition” which he endowed with actual colors. One of the most interesting points in Messiaen’s modal theory was the “the resonance chord” in which combines 15 natural harmonics, ascribing to each a variety of colors. He has written, “These chords, played in turned over manner, recall the effect of refracting light through a window glass in a cathedral, a phenomenon called rainbow effect.” The titles of the Eight were The Dove, Song of Ecstasy in a Sad Landscape, The Light Number, Defunct Instants, The Impalpable Sound of Dreams, Bells of Anguish and Tears of Farewell, Calm Lamentation, and A Reflection in the Wind.

The church piano’s sostenuto pedal was missing, depriving the artist the ability to attain certain effects Messiaen wrote into the score. To this reviewer some of these preludes represented the movement of the light in the Aurora Borealis. Ms. Smith played Messiaen with variety, nuance and it was technically flawless. Messiaen's Eight Preludes hold a wide variety of moods, from frenetic to a static, and at times he seems to express his inner most state without regard for dramatic shifts. Sometimes his blocks of dissonant chords might remind one of shattered glass. Ms. Smith played all of them elegantly.