Home  Reviews  Articles  Calendar  Presenters  Add Event     
Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
RECITAL REVIEW
Santa Rosa Junior College Chamber Concerts / Friday, November 22, 2013
Jean Efflam Bavouzet, piano

Pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet

GALLIC PERFECTION

by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 22, 2013

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet has made French piano music a principal part of his career, but his artistry extends to far more than Gallic masterpieces, as he convincingly demonstrated in a Nov. 22 recital for the SRJC Chamber Concerts series.

Before 180 in Newman Auditorium, Mr. Bavouzet opened with a sparkling reading of Beethoven’s "Waldstein" Sonata that featured sprightly tempos and precise articulation. The opening Allegro con Brio was so accurate that it could have been used for score dictation, and nary a nod was made toward romanticized rubato. Only the movement's humor was lacking, something Anton Nel underscored in his "Waldstein" last year in the same hall and series.

The following Adagio and Rondo finale were superbly played, the slow and quasi-introductory Adagio having just the right repose and the Rondo beginning in a dreamy wash of sound, becoming energetic as the music unfolded through the glissando octaves and an accelerated final section.

Ravel’s great 1908 "Gaspard de la Nuit" closed the first half. Here, as in the Debussy Preludes to come, Mr. Bavouzet was a peerless interpreter of his countryman’s music. Swirls of sound floated from the piano, and in the big bass sections, usually heavily emphasized, he instead underlined the harmonic beauty of the right-hand chords. The "Le Gibet" movement was played as a dirge over a menacing pedal point, and Mr. Bavouzet’s control of register balances was imposing.

In sweeping gestures and diabolerie, the closing "Scarbo" movement was a tour de force of terrific pianism, replete with sharp bass sforzandos, swift repeated notes and concentrated drama. A standing ovation ensued.

Debussy’s first seven Preludes (of 12) from his Book I followed intermission, each receiving playing of a unifying mood and character. Here the pianist’s consummate control or tone color and delicate phrase was on full display. Especially memorable were the imaginative tonal balances in "Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir" and the lively and rhythmically playful "Les collines d’Anacapri." It was subtle and authoritative Debussy, lovingly presented.

There is no easy way to move from the pellucid impressionism of the Debussy Preludes to the Bartok Piano Sonata, so Mr. Bavouzet simply dove headlong into the Hungarian's three-movement virtuoso work from 1926. The composer’s longest solo piece for piano, the Sonata is tonal but dissonant throughout. The complicated embellishments and rhythms posed no problems for the pianist’s technique, and his careful pedaling (including sections when the damper pedal was not used) brought out snippets of folk tunes heretofore new to me. In the Allegro finale an effective toccata-like pace was adopted and gave a potent character to the trenchant neo-classical music.

If there was to be an encore, something sedate was called for, and Mr. Bavouzet responded to the applause with another delicate Debussy Prelude, "La fille aux cheveux de lin." He played it with sensitive legato, a wonderful ending to a provocative and nearly faultless recital.