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Recital
DYNAMIC PIANISM IN YAKUSHEV MARIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev arrived Jan. 23 at his Mill Valley Chamber Music Society recital with the repute of playing loud and fast and delivering charming introductory musical remarks to his audience. He was true to form in Mill Valley’s Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church, preceding Haydn’s sple
Symphony
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 9, 2022
The Jan. 9 Santa Rosa Symphony concert was supposed to feature the world premiere of Gabriella Smith’s first symphony, but it ended up featuring another type of premiere: a concert that was conceived, rehearsed and performed in less than eight hours. Symphony staff learned on Sunday morning that so
Choral and Vocal
AN OLD FRIEND RETURNS TO WEILL IN STERLING ABS MESSIAH PERFORMANCE
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, December 19, 2021
A tremendous accomplishment by the American Bach Soloists Dec. 19 was near perfect performance of Handel's Messiah in Weill Hall. Long an annual tradition at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, the ABS took to the road and delivered a Christmas gift of epic proportions to an obviously thrilled and enth
Symphony
SHOSTAKOVICH FIFTH THUNDERS AT WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 5, 2021
In a new season marketed as “Classical Reunion,” the Santa Rosa Symphony made a palpable connection with its audience at the early December set of three standing ovation concerts in Weill Hall. The December 5 concert, with 1,000 attending, is reviewed here. Vaughan Williams’ popular Fantasia on a T
Chamber
THE LINCOLN RETURNS WITH CLARKE'S PUNGENT TRIO
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, November 18, 2021
There were many familiar faces Nov. 18 during Music at Oakmont’s initial concert of the season, but perhaps the most necessary were the three musicians of the Lincoln Piano Trio, the Chicago-based group that has performed often in Oakmont since 2006. A smaller than unusual audience in Berger Audito
Symphony
NOSTALGIC BARBER KNOXVILLE AT SO CO PHIL JACKSON THEATER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
In their first Jackson Theater appearance of the new season the Sonoma County Philharmonic presented Nov. 14 a program devoid of novelty, but showcasing the “People’s Orchestra” in splendid performance condition after a long COVID-related layoff. Conductor Norman Gamboa drew a committed and boister
Chamber
THRILLING PIANO QUINTETS IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 14, 2021
The Mill Valley Chamber Music Society sprang back to life on November 14 when a stellar ensemble from the Manhattan Chamber Players, a New York-based collective, arrived to perform two piano quintets: Vaughn-Williams’ in C Minor (1903), little known and rarely performed; and Schubert’s in A Major D.
Chamber
MUSCULAR BRAHMS FROM IVES COLLECTIVE IN GLASER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Leaving SRJC’s Newman Auditorium for the first time in decades, the College’s Chamber Concert Series presented a season-opening concert Nov. 14 in Santa Rosa’s Glaser Center with the four-musician Bay-Area based Ives Collective. The season, the first given since 2020, is dedicated to Series Founder
Symphony
MONUMENTAL BRAHMS SYMPHONY HIGHLIGHTS MARIN SYMPHONY RETURN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 7, 2021
In the waning COVID pandemic the Marin Symphony is one of the last Bay Area orchestras to return to the stage, and they did with considerable fanfare Nov. 7 before 1,200 in Civic Center Auditorium, with resident conductor Alasdair Neale leading a demanding concert of Brahms, Schumann and New York-ba
Symphony
APOLLO'S FIRE LIGHTS UP VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Long ago the Canadian violin virtuoso Gil Shaham played a program in Weill Hall of solo Bach, with a visual backdrop of slowly developing visuals, such as a pokey flower opening over four minutes. The Bach was sensational, and some in the audience liked the photos but many found them disconcerting,
REVIEW

Pianist John Boyajy and Soprano Bryn Jimenez

SCHUBERT AND EXALTED MOZART IN NOVATO RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 3, 2010

Marin pianist John Boyajy can’t be neutral about any important musical matter. He has passion and the ability to speak extensive words about that passion, and his excitement about Schubert, Bach and Mozart was everywhere in evidence in a duo recital with soprano Bryn Jimenez Jan. 3 in Novato’s All Saints Lutheran Church. Fifty-Five attended on a gloomy and cold day

Beginning with Schubert’s B-Flat Impromptu from Op. 142, Mr. Boyajy set the afternoon’s stage with a reading replete with chaste phrasing and balanced contrasts in the theme, five variations and coda. The non-professional church piano allowed a delicate treble pianissimo in the slow and dignified third variation but had a muddy bass section. Mr. Boyajy underscored the modulation leading to the final variation, his fast scales shimmering. The two chords of the coda were deftly played, the final one oddly broken.

Soprano Bryn Jimenez joined Mr. Boyajy in three Schubert songs to close the first half. Ms. Jimenez has a big and sometimes brash voice, not always suited to the nuance of Schubert lied, but possessing good German diction and ample drama. In “Ganymed” (D. 544) the long sustained notes were floated with care, and the piano’s ending resolution into the major was beautifully crafted. The “Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel” (D. 118) began with requisite rumbling repetitive piano chords, depicting the spinning process, and Ms. Jimenez’s vocal line flew effortlessly in the upper register. Here her lower staff richness became at times monochromatic, especially at high volume, but there was no lack of drama and pathos. The concluding “The Young Nun” (D. 828), a complex work from 1825 projecting an intense spiritual ecstasy, was sung with a beguiling mystery in the low voice and intrinsic histrionics. It was a gripping reading.

Bach’s C Minor Fantasia (S. 906) began the second half, in Mr. Boyajy’s capable hands. It’s a brilliant if short work, with large chromatic modulations. The pianist provided a performance that had aspects of Scarlatti’s sonatas, the turns and mordents directly stated and finger articulation and trills artfully executed.

Mozart’s solo motet “Exsultate Jubilate” (K. 165) closed the program and brought out the best singing of the afternoon. In the opening Allegro Ms. Jimenez chose a narrower vibrato than used in the Schubert songs, and Mr. Boyajy’s accompaniment was continuously forceful. The Larghetto begins with a recitative reminiscent of “The Marriage of Figaro” and was thoughtfully sung, the piano line subtlety played and modulating to the famous “alleluia” finale. Here Mozart asks a lot of the singer, the playful and happy text exploring a wide range of vocal color. Ms. Jimenez left nothing on the table, her powerful voice bringing the audience to its feet.

An encore was demanded and surprisingly Ms. Jimenez deferred to her partner, as Mr. Boyajy played Debussy’s “Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum” from the Children’s Corner Suite. The scales were fast and the legato balanced, perhaps the most virtuosic pianism of the concert.