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Recital
SCHUMANN AND BARTOK HIGHLIGHT BRONFMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Lee Ormasa
Friday, April 21, 2017
Those people once addicted to the “Angry Birds” game application likely suffered an auditory flashback during the opening measures of the allegro from Bartok’s Suite, Op. 14, the opening work in Yefim Bronfman’s April 21 recital at Weill Hall. The repetitive opening figures of the Bartok were...
Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Recital
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpour’s March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
Recital
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
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 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.