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Recital
UNHURRIED COMMAND IN MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Pianist Robert Schwartz opened Mendocino Music Festival’s piano series July 17 with a set of works in a recital made for keyboard connoisseurs. His success was doubly gratifying for the artist as he had played on the same stage at last year’s Festival, but had to cancel most of the recital due to il...
Recital
ELEGANCE AND INTROSPECTION
by Nicki Bell
Sunday, May 18, 2014
A May 18 Weill Hall audience was led by the hands and heart of Richard Goode to a quiet realm of the sublime with a performance of the masterful last three Beethoven Piano Sonatas. The program was billed as the first time the artist has toured with the Op. 109, 110 and 111 pieces, and these weighty...
Recital
PRISTINE CONTROL, SUBDUED EMOTION
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Hilary Hahn’s April 27 Weill Hall recital found the violinist entering the stage without her instrument, beginning ten minutes of comments about the program. She does these introductions well, and most of the audience enjoyed the discourse comparing Schubert's Fantasia for Violin with Schoenberg’s t...
Recital
DRAMATIC DIVA SINGS WORKS OF AMERICAN COMPOSERS IN WEILL
by Vaida Falconbridge
Sunday, April 13, 2014
After opening her April 13 Weill Hall recital with the bright “The Year’s at the Spring,” probably Amy Beach’s best-known song, soprano Deborah Voigt paused for a moment to say to the audience, “When we were putting the program together, we had no idea it would be so apropos!” Continuing with the ...
Recital
RUSSIAN PIANIST, RUSSIAN MUSIC, RUSSIAN DRAMA
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 13, 2014
In the season’s penultimate Sonoma Classical Music Society concert on Sunday afternoon, April 13, Russian pianist Anastasia Dedik played an all-Russian program that was heavy on drama with just a modicum of lyricism. Two Rachmaninoff Etudes Tableaux opened the program, the E-Flat Minor from Op. 33 ...
Recital
WARM SPRING MUSIC AND ART IN CAS ORGAN RECITAL
by Jim Harrod
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Spring brought flowers and the virtuoso organist Faythe Freese to play a joyful recital on March 23 at Santa Rosa’s Resurrection Parish. Both the artist and the beautiful spring weather were most welcome, and the event was part of the Creative Arts Series. Ms. Freese, Professor of Organ at The Un...
Recital
MOK ONE SPEED AND ELEGANCE IN SRJC CHAMBER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 16, 2014
After a decade-long absence, Gwendolyn Mok returned to the SRJC Chamber Series Feb. 16 in a gem of a balanced and elegant piano recital. Before an audience of 140 in the College’s Newman Auditorium, the San Jose-based artist began with Beethoven’s early A Major Sonata, Op. 2, No. 2. She quickly cau...
Recital
HU'S ON FIRST, SECOND AND THIRD
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Music at Oakmont in their eight-concert season features mostly instrumental ensembles, and rarely pianists. But when they do the pianists are pretty good. Ching-Yun Hu's performance Feb.13 in Berger Auditorium, for example, was at a first-cabin level of virtuosity. A conventional repertoire first h...
Recital
IMPECCABLE BEETHOVEN FROM THE ALEXANDER STRING QUARTET
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 09, 2014
In the classical music world, snazzy innovation and music puffery catch the headlines, but there is always a role for an instrumental group with long experience and impeccable artistic integrity. The Alexander String Quartet's Feb. 9 concert in the Sonoma Classical Chamber Music Series proved that d...
Recital
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 spar...
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.