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Recital
ECLECTIC PIANISM IN SPRING LAKE VILLAGE VIRTUAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
During the pandemic The Santa Rosa Symphony’s virtual concerts received their due in performance praise, but another series, Spring Lake Village, more quietly presented monthly virtual concerts to a select local audience. May 5 saw the latest event, produced by impresario Robert Hayden, and feature...
Symphony
SONIC CONTRASTS HIGHLIGHT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SPRING PROGRAM
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 25, 2021
In a curious mixture of compositions, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s penultimate virtual concert of the season April 25 unfolded in ways both highly satisfying and a bit perplexing. Directed by resident Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong, the event followed a familiar format – several contemporary wor...
Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
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....
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.