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Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
Recital
RISKY SPEED IN POTENT LUO RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Each half of pianist Wei Luo’s Schroeder Hall recital Jan. 22 contained beguiling interpretations and consummate technical command of Shostakovich and Albeniz works, but each half finished with less than exalted playing. Two of Shostakovich’s Op. 87 Preludes and Fugues opened the recital, from the ...
Recital
COLORFUL SCHUBERT AND CHOPIN WARM WEILL HALL IN AX RECITAL
by Nicki Bell
Friday, January 20, 2017
On a stormy winter evening Jan. 20 a rainbow of colorful Schubert and Chopin music came from the fingers, feet and heart of pianist Emanuel Ax.  Playing at the Weill Hall for the first time, this recital was a tribute to beauty in the arts. It conveyed the value and glory of balance, lyricism and el...
Recital
SOUND AND FURY IN MATSUEV WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 22, 2016
A touring virtuoso’s reputation often precedes him or her, and usually that’s a good thing. The reputation of a Renée Fleming or a Yo Yo Ma can guarantee a sold out hall, and possibly a great concert. But not always, and so there was some concern at Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s Oct. 23 Weill re...
Recital
ARTISTRY AND AMPLE RELAXED CHARM AT PERLMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Itzhak Perlman has fashioned a career that encompasses more than virtuoso violin performance, and includes teaching, narrating musical documentaries, score editing, humanitarian projects, charity events and an often an easy “ah shucks” demeanor that is always beguiling. With pianist Rohan de Silva ...
Recital
MORGAN'S ORGAN VIRTUOSITY SHINES IN ALL BACH RECITAL IN SCHROEDER
by James Harrod
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Robert Huw Morgan, Stanford University’s consummate organist, returned to the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall October 16 to play a thrilling recital of great Bach organ music from mostly Bach’s Cöthen period. Professor Morgan’s eclectic program included the Prelude and Fugue in E Flat Major, B...
Recital
NORTH GERMAN CHORALES WERE MUSIC FOR THE SOUL AT AGO RECITAL
by James Harrod
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Organist Paul Blanchard played an outstanding and instructive recital August 28 at Santa Rosa’s First Presbyterian Church. It was the fourth and last in a series of summer Sunday recitals featuring organists of the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO), and underwritten by the Churc...
Recital
FRESH AND LIVELY HANDEL ORGAN CONCERTOS IN AGO ARTIST RECITAL
by James Harrod
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Organist Beth Zucchino played a delightful recital of three Handel concertos August 21 at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Rosa. This was the third in a series of summer Sunday recitals featuring organists of the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO). The program was three o...
Recital
INSPIRING INTERPRETATIONS IN DE SANTIS ORGAN RECITAL
by James Harrod
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Organist Greg de Santis played a delightful and expertly shaped recital of mostly familiar selections August 14 from the classical organ repertory at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Rosa. The program opened with Mendelssohn’s C Minor Prelude and Fugue, Opus 37, No 1. The three preludes and ...
Recital
BALANCED VIRTUOSITY IN ATZINGER MMF RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Pianist Christopher Atzinger’s Mendocino Music Festival recital July 16 in the small Preston Hall looked formidable on paper larded with what might be said to be “non festival, non summer” music. There were no light Gershwin or Schubert dance works, and for some the six pieces from Brahms’ Op. 118 ...
RECITAL REVIEW
Creative Arts Series / Sunday, October 16, 2011
Janine Johnson, harpsichord

Harpsichordist Janine Johnson at the Oct. 16 Santa Rosa Concert

CREATIVE ARTS SERIES OPENS WITH STELLAR HARPSICHORD RECITAL

by Joanna Bramel Young
Sunday, October 16, 2011

Impresario Beth Zucchino’s Creative Arts Series presented a recital by harpsichordist Janine Johnson October 16 at the Resurrection Parish in Santa Rosa. A small but appreciative audience heard Ms. Johnson perform works from the Baroque and Classical periods. The artist is well known to East Bay audiences as a performer and a builder and decorator of the instruments, working for 25 years with the renowned Berkeley harpsichord builder and restorer John Phillips.

The program was ambitious, covering both German and French harpsichord and organ composers. Opening the concert was a Toccata in C minor by the youthful Bach that was probably inspired by the Buxtehude, a composer Bach admired. Bach once walked to North Germany to study with the great older master. On the Flemish style double keyboard instrument Ms. Johnson moved effortlessly between lower and upper keyboards, creating contrasting effects – always giving a clear and vivid rendering of the music. During one dramatic section in the Toccata one was reminded of an operatic recitative, with its declamatory phrases and rich ornamentation.

Buxtehude’s Suite in E minor, next on the program, was full of arpeggios (or open chords) which Ms. Johnson said derived from lute technique. A suite is a traditional Baroque form, a collection of dances, which were often meant to be danced to. Each dance has its correct tempo and style, which Ms. Johnson demonstrated with different finger articulations and ornaments, bringing out the characteristics of each dance. This reviewer especially enjoyed the Courante, where the hand lifted lightly off the keyboard, leaving little spaces between the notes that enhanced the lively rhythms. The harpsichord, while unable to play loud and soft – that is why the fortepiano was given its name – creates variety and drama by other means, including length of notes, spaces between notes, and chordal and contrapuntal textures.

Johann Christian Bach, a Mozart contemporary, wrote his Sonata in G major about 1671, and it sounded quite different from the Buxtehude and J.S. Bach works. Written in the Classical style, his work sparkled with tender melodies in the right hand and Alberti bass effects in the left. The work was very charming and full of fun. Ms. Johnson told us that Mozart took many of J.C. Bach’s harpsichord sonatas and made arrangements of them.

Jean-Henri d’Anglebert was harpsichordist for the court of Louis XIV, and is probably the greatest harpsichord composer before Louis Couperin (1668-1733). D’Anglebert’s Suite in G minor exploited the resonant bass strings of the harpsichord, bringing forth a mournful, heartfelt dignity to the work. The Allemande was stately and sweet, with many rolled chords and ornaments.

The recital ended with Bach’s familiar Fifth French Suite in G major, composed in 1722. This suite, unlike the d’Anglebert, was not meant to be danced to, and could be played more freely. Bach elevated the dance suite to its highest point, becoming a form, rather than just background for dancing. Bach’s turns and trills throughout the suite were played with great elegance by Ms. Johnson. The jubilant Gigue ending created a big, full-throated sound with the coupling of the two keyboards and the lilting 6/8 rhythm of the dance. It was full of joy, and very uplifting – a fitting conclusion to an exquisite concert.