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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...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
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.