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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...
Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Recital
NOVACEK'S 2ND HALF TRIFECTA SCORES AT MENDO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Modern classical piano recitals are in two parts, with longer and perhaps more profound music proceeding perhaps shorter and usually stimulating lighter fare. In John Novacek’s July 13 Mendocino Music Festival recital the best playing came unexpectedly in the eight abbreviated works comprising 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.