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Chamber
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 08, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
Choral and Vocal
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
Chamber
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
Chamber
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
Chamber
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 09, 2020
The Feb. 9 performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony offered a healthy dose of 21st century music firmly bound to the 19th. Matt Browne’s first symphony, “The Course of Empire”—based on a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School of American painting in the 1820s—emp...
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 02, 2020
Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert. In his eighth conducting season with the So C...
Symphony
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 01, 2020
The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, gave a concert of enormous energy and emotional impact on Feb.1 to a small audience in Weill Hall. This orchestra has been a major cultural force in Poland since 1949, playing under many renowned conductors and has been committed to pr...
Opera
EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT
by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 2020
“Beautiful, strange, and unnatural…” said orchestra conductor Thomas Conlin when speaking of the tenor voice. One of the coveted voice types of the opera world, the tenor voice is known for it’s piercing tones and soaring, unnatural high notes. The iconic image of the Pagliacci clown (in the famed...
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.