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Chamber
TURINA PERFORMANCE HIGHLIGHTS SSU FACULTY CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 29, 2023
Chamber
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Symphony
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by Steve Osborn
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Choral and Vocal
ORGAN-CHOIR COMBO IN BACH CELEBRATION
by Terry McNeill
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Recital
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Choral and Vocal
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Choral and Vocal
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by Abby Wasserman
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Choral and Vocal
SILVER ANNIVERSARY BACH RECITAL AT INCARNATION'S EVENSONG SERVICE
by Terry McNeill
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Symphony
JOY, LOVELY DIVINE SPARK!
by Steve Osborn
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Other
DINOVA PIANISM CHARMS SATED AUDIENCE AT J-B MARIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 20, 2022
RECITAL REVIEW

John Boyajy in Sebastopol Sept. 16

BOYAJY'S VOICE AND PIANO ARTISTRY CAPTURES SCHUBERT IN SEBASTOPOL RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Friday, September 16, 2011

John Boyajy is one of the Bay Area’s most active pianists, but he seldom ventures out of his Marin County lair to present his legendary eclectic recitals of famous and rarely-heard composers. Sept. 16 found him at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, with colleague Nicki Bell, to play familiar music in a resounding and unique way.

What was unique about the evening? First, Mr. Boyajy began with a solid and texturally clear reading of Schubert’s lyrical A Flat Major Impromptu from Op, 142, with ample power in the climaxes, but that reading quickly moved to three wonderful Schubert songs: Heidenröslein (D. 257), Morgengruss (D. 795) and Die Forelle (D. 550). Pretty conventional in many ways, even in their transcriptions for the piano by Liszt and Godowsky. But then, with Ms. Bell at the piano, Mr. Boyajy sang each of the three songs. When has an instrumentalist in a Sonoma County recital turned also to the art of the voice? Should a Carol Menke recital, after vocal beauties, spotlight her playing Scarlatti on the piano?

The Schubert playing itself was capable and the pianist explained to an audience of 25 the lure of Schubert’s beguiling art for Liszt and Godowsky. These transcriptions are far more complicated than the original piano parts, with simultaneous legato and staccato in the hands and intricate polyphony, and the pianist captured the spirit of each. The eighth of the 20-piece set from “Die Schöene Müllerin,” Morgangruss was the best sung, with a surprisingly fast tempo. The piano part occasionally covered Mr. Boyajy’s voice, and though he sings with admirable German and diction, he tends to run out of vocal strength at phrase endings.

Following intermission Liszt’s Valse Oubilée No. 1 and the Hungarian master’s transcription of Schubert’s Soirée de Vienne no. 6 were performed. The compositions are opposites, the “forgotten” Valse a product of Liszt’s stark late harmonic palette, and the Soirée a champagne toast to old Vienna, full of charm and a tricky set of variations demanding careful digital attention. Mr. Boyajy’s fingers, though not note perfect, were up to the task and the playing was one of the high points in the recital. At times the artist’s lingering over a particularly choice tune disturbed the line, but also it reminded one of Rosenthal’s famous and delightfully schmaltzy recording of the Soirée.

Bach’s iconic Chaconne in D Minor, from the second Partita for solo violin, completed the recital. Here Mr. Boyajy combines the works’ transcriptions by Siloti and Busoni with a few additions of his own, and the complete package had considerable dramatic force. The rhythmic and thematic contents are those of Bach, with the pianistic demands those of modern virtuosity. The sonority demanded by the artist, especially in powerful bass chords, overwhelmed the small hall piano and led to sections of muddy textures. But in every way the majesty of the great work was captured by Mr. Boyajy, right up the closing where several additional notes were added. Transcriptions can allow no less!

No encore was offered.