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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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Sonoma State University Department of Music / Friday, October 18, 2013
Jason Vieaux, guitar

Guitarist Jason Vieaux

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 hearing so much. The acoustics are very good, but not astounding. I was seated in the second row center, but the stage is so high that most of the sound projected above my head. The stage is large and the guitarist was situated well back from the front, resulting in a disconnected feeling from the performance.

Mr. Vieaux is a virtuosic and accomplished guitarist, and his exquisite instrumental touch produced one the best quality sounds I’ve ever heard from a plucked string. His tone quality is bell-like, and its beauty is consistent throughout the length of the fingerboard. His technique is awe inspiring. His phrasing and dynamics were consistently well thought out and effective. He engages the audience and his commentaries on himself and the music were informative and entertaining.

The concert opened with Giuliani’s Grand Overture, Opus 61, followed by Bach’s E Minor Lute Suite (No. 1), BWV 996. In these pieces the performances gave me pause. Mr. Vieaux is given to the grand gesture as became popular in the Romantic era, and Giuliani’s Overture is a piece solidly in the classical era and Bach, of course, is the definitive baroque composer. My feeling is that this music is most effective when it is understated. If the accelerando, ritardandos, crescendos and decrescendos are very broad, the music can easily sound studied and melodramatic. There is an expression in acting used to describe an actor who overacts: “chewing the scenery.” Though Mr. Vieaux’s rich tone quality and technical gifts were always impressive, I felt the tempos in the Bach were a little fast. The Allemande should be slower than the Courante, and the playing gave the impression the Mr. Vieaux was trying to get the Bach over as quickly as possible.

The third piece in the first half of the concert was Britten’s Nocturnal, Op. 70, played brilliantly. Here Mr. Vieaux’s grand gestures were put to richly expressive use.

After a brief intermission the guitarist opened the second half with Albeniz’ Sevilla from Suite Española, Op. 47, from 1887. Mr. Vieaux’s grand gestures were most at home here, and his performance of the Albeniz was one of the highlights of the evening. This was followed by Mr. Vieaux’s own elegant arrangement in G major of Ellington’s In a Sentimental Mood. As beautiful as his arrangement is, this sort of thing always leaves me a little unsatisfied. These jazz pieces were composed to be springboards for improvisation. To play them as concert (classical) pieces I feel the performer should either venture to improvise on them or compose some variations on the theme to give the impression of improvisation.

Following the Ellington Mr. Vieaux played Dan Visconti’s The Devil’s Strum, composed for the guitarist. Devil’s Strum has reference to the so called “Crossroads” legend about blues virtuoso Robert Johnson meeting the devil at the crossroads and acquiring his virtuosity at the price of his soul. Visconti’s piece is very abstract and incorporates many blues idioms and grunts, foot stomping, and other effects. They were all played with great skill and enthusiasm.

This was followed by Paulo Bellinati’s Jongo, incorporating much of the flavor of traditional Brazilian folk and street music. Jose Luis Merlin’s Suite del Recuerdo, i.e. “Memory Suite” or “Suite of Remembrance,” written as a memorial to the victims of the “Dirty War” in Argentina (the composer’s homeland), closed the program.

Mr. Vieaux played one encore after a standing ovation, Pat Metheney’s “Letter From Home.” The guitarist is releasing a CD of Metheny’s music in January, entitled “Play.”

Mr. Vieaux is an artist with a captivating sound and a paragon for those who play and love the guitar.