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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
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.