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Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
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...
Recital
PIANISTIC COMMAND IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, October 08, 2017
Nikolay Khozyainov’s Oct. 8 debut at the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall was one of those rare moments in a young artist’s career when a performance approaches perfection. From the opening notes of Beethoven’s A-Flat Major Sonata (Op. 110) through a delightful recital ending transcription, the ...
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.