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Choral and Vocal
SOMBER GERMAN POETRY IN SONG AT ROSCHMANN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Two weeks does make a hefty difference. Feb. 3 saw the diva Renée Fleming beguile a full Weill Hall house in a mix of Brahms, Broadway show songs and Dvorak chestnuts. It was a gala event with couture gowns and colorful extra-musical communication between singer and her rapt audience. Dorothea Rösc...
Chamber
NOVEL AND FAMILIAR WORKS FROM THE TILDEN TRIO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 11, 2018
North Coast chamber music fans have the luxury of two fine resident piano trios, with the frequently performing Trio Navarro at Sonoma State, and the Tilden Trio at San Rafael’s Dominican University. The Tilden plays less often, but their Feb. 11 performance brought several hundred to Angelico Hall ...
Symphony
A FIFTH CONTENDER ENTERS THE RING FOR THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, February 10, 2018
In these international times, what makes a piece of music American? For Michael Christie, the answer is that it needs to have at least premiered on these shores, if not been composed here. Thus the rationale for the “all American” program that Christie--the fifth and final conducting candidate for t...
Recital
HAUNTING RACHMANINOFF WORKS IN HU'S MAO RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 08, 2018
Ching-Yun Hu made a return Music at Oakmont appearance Feb. 8 in Berger Auditorium, reprising a recital she made in the same hall four years ago. Many of the recital’s trappings were the same, but the music Ms. Hu chose to play was decidedly different. All afternoon the pianist was in an aggressiv...
Chamber
A COMPLETE ARTISTIC PACKAGE IN FLEMING'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Vaida Falconbridge and Mary Beard
Saturday, February 03, 2018
The diva Renée Fleming strode on the Weill Hall stage Feb. 2 in her first couture gown of the evening, a gray and swirling cream strapless sheath with flamboyant coordinating stole. For this concert, Ms. Fleming stayed to somewhat lighter fare, foregoing heavier dramatic and coloratura arias for a v...
Recital
ZNAIDER-KULEK DUO CHARMS AND CHALLANGES WEILL AUDIENCE FEB. 2
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 02, 2018
Weill hall has mounted several exceptional piano recitals, with Garrick Ohlsson’s titanic Liszt concert, and of course Lang Lang’s two insouciant but also compelling performances topping the list since 2013. But arguably the virtuoso violinists have on balance been more impressive, and thoughts g...
Chamber
VIVID GERMAN ROMANTICISM IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT IN SCHROEDER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Though not new to Sonoma County, the Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) concerts are relatively recent in the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall. So the first of three spring concerts Jan. 27 provided a picture of what’s in the repertoire leading up to their Festival this summer at Sonoma’s Ha...
Symphony
MONUMENTAL NIELSEN SYMPHONY CAPS SO CO PHIL CONCERT AT SR HS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Turning again away from conventional repertoire, the Sonoma County Philharmonic programmed Jan. 27 three works in what were local debut performances in Santa Rosa High School’s Performing Arts Center. Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony, Op. 29, called “Inextinguishable,” closed the program with an extravaga...
Chamber
ECLECTIC ANDERSON & ROE TRANSCRIPTIONS CAPTIVATE WEILL HALL AUDIENCE
by Nicki Bell
Sunday, January 21, 2018
From the first moment when Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe walked Jan. 21 on the Weill Hall stage and spoke to the audience about their two-piano program, it was clear that an afternoon of drama, humor, virtuosity, warmth, transcendence and excitement was in store. This dynamic and mesmerizing ...
Chamber
BALCOM TRIO HIGHLIGHTS DELPHI'S RAC CONCERT IN OCCIDENTAL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, January 20, 2018
The Redwood Arts Council audience first met the Delphi Trio (Jeffrey LaDeur, (piano), Liana Berube (violin), and cellist Michelle Kwon) in 2013, and subsequent concerts in the same Occidental hall have become crowd favorites. The January 20th program before a capacity audience seemed to have enthus...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Antonio Iturrioz / Sunday, April 26, 2009
Antonio Iturrioz, Pianist

Leopold Godowsky

ITURRIOZ MAKES EMOTIONAL RETURN

by Kenn Gartner
Sunday, April 26, 2009

Antonio Iturrioz made an emotional return April 26 to the Newman Auditorium stage at SRJC, the same spot he was supposed to occupy nearly two years ago when an accident just one hour before curtain prevented his appearance. This time Iturrioz not only arrived in robust health but presented a program of rarely heard works, communicating to 135 people his devotion for the neglected composer Leopold Godowsky, and exhibiting elegant if occasionally unsatisfying pianism.

Godowsky’s Alt Wien (Old Vienna) began the program, and Iturrioz played it mit schwung — polished, sophisticated, and in a true Viennese waltz style, making sure we heard the rests. He proceeded to give the crowd a complete set of verbal program notes, pointing out that those in favor of neoclassicism after 1900 ignored the music of Godowsky (1870-1938), a composer to whom he has devoted years of study. That people ignored Godowsky is certainly true, probably because his compositions are exceedingly complex. They are contrapuntal to an extent achieved only by Bach in his Musical Offering, which features a fugue for six voices. The counterpoint is so dense that one only perceives chords. The same is true for Godowsky. As one audience member put it: “It all sounds the same,” and there was a rhythmic monotony to several transcriptions from the Bach violin and cello suites.

Iturrioz is a master of the left hand and has produced several DVDs illustrating left-hand works and technique. Not surprisingly, his performance of Alexander Scriabin’s Nocturne in D flat, Opus 9, No. 2, was all about the left hand. The distinction between the Nocturne’s melodic lines and the accompaniment figuration was sparse, and the melodies were often attached legato to background figuration. The tempos were the slowest the reviewer has heard in live performance, yet the trills were marvelous. Godowsky’s reworking for the left hand of Chopin’s sensuous Etude in E Flat, Op. 10, No. 6, was played with a delicate touch and tonal richness. Iturrioz gave the same beauty to Godowsky’s versions of Schubert’s Litany and Henry Bishop’s Home Sweet Home. Both featured pianistic tenderness and suave detail.

After intermission, Iturrioz played Sonoma County composer Charles Sepos’s Tango Blue, a work whose cluster style seemed alien to the rest of the program. The work comes from a collection of 100 three-minute tangos composed by 100 composers as diverse as John Cage and Otto Leuning and collated into The Tango Project in 1985. The Iturrioz performance was good to hear. The only other tango from the Project that has had repeated performances is Steven Rosenhaus’s The Kiss.

Two major Liszt works, the second Legend and the Reminiscences from Norma, ended each half and were in most ways disappointing. As in the Scriabin, Iturrioz adopted glacial tempos, gaining clarity and differentiation of voices at the expense of momentum, bravura and the long line. He also took many short pauses, presumably to set his hands before short virtuosic passages, which adversely affected the histrionic impact of the massive works, particularly the Legend. A pianist can get away with a lot of orchestral playing and long damper-pedal phrases in Liszt, but Iturrioz chose to slow everything down, resulting in underwhelming readings.

There was one encore, a lovely reading of Noche Azul by Ernesto Lecuona. Here the fluent rhythms and perfect legato were in harmony, the affect amorous.

Musicologist Jim Burns and Concerts Grand producer Terry McNeill contributed to this review.