Home  Reviews  Articles  Calendar  Presenters  Add Event     
Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
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.