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Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
RECITAL REVIEW
Concerts Grand / Sunday, November 15, 2009
Richard Cionco, Pianist

Pianist Richard Cionco in Newman

HAVE PIANO, WILL TRAVEL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sacramento State’s Richard Cionco followed a string of CSU faculty pianists into the Concerts Grand recital series Nov. 15, playing a concert that featured eclectic music rarely heard in the North Bay. Mr. Cionco’s breezy stage presence and audience repartee belied the complexity of the music, and he consistently delivered the goods to a small group in SRJC’s Newman Auditorium

The cornerstone of the recital was the 28-minute “American Variations” by New York composer Sunny Knable, in its North Bay premiere. Comprising at least 16 individual sections with such picturesque titles as “Scherzo Sarcastigue” and “Old Cotton Picker,” the work requires a formidable finger technique with numerous hand crossings, violent sforzandos and even a sporadic tone cluster. The theme, with echoes of Foster, Gottschalk and Copland, was surprisingly composed Mr. Knable himself. Using sheet music, Mr. Cionco met all the demands with aplomb, the concluding “Jig” ripping up and down the keyboard to everyone’s delight. And clearly the performer was pleased, with many loud “bravos” underscoring his accomplishment.

Prior to his triumph with Knable, Mr. Cionco opened with the four-part Villa Lobos Bachiana Brasiliera, No. 4, part of a suite of nine works composed between 1930 and 1942 and fusing Brazilian popular music with the styles of Bach. In Mr. Cionco’s hands the improvisatory element was stressed, but in no way suppressing the often raucous nature of Preludio or the concluding Danza.

The short second half began with the stark and compact “Sancta Dorothea” (S. 187) of Liszt. Written nine years before Liszt died, the work combines religious asceticism and palpable humility. Mr. Cionco chose a tempo far faster than other pianists (albeit few) adopt, stressing the elegant melody with rippling left-hand triplet figures. The brevity prevented pondering the sweet lyricism, and perhaps a small bit of the late Liszt “resignation” was lost in the interpretation.

Not so for three of Chopin’s noble Mazurkas. The A Minor, Op. 17, No. 4, a Horowitz favorite, was played sublimely and caught the wistful nature behind nearly all of the Mazurkas, irrespective of the sometime strident rhythms. Op. 24, No. 2 followed, and the final Mazurka from Op. 33 (No. 2) had the requisite rustic flavor and a deft portrayal of the strong character and simple harmony. There is joy tinged with Polish sadness in the Mazurkas. Mr. Cionco addressed each with pianist mastery and an approach that made them sound fresh.

The popular “Danzas Argentinas” (Op. 2) of Ginastera concluded the program, preceded by illuminating remarks from the pianist. It was the third performance of the 1937 composition in the last two years for Concerts Grand, and probably the most successful, especially with the bookends “Danza del Viejo boyero” and “Danza del gaucho matrero.” Here the control was complete, virtuosic and, in the final dance, menacing. The middle movement “Danza de la moza donosa” was languorous and fetching.

Mr. Cionco offered one encore, a Rachmaninoff “Moment Musicaux” in E Flat from Op. 16.

The reviewer is the Producer of the Concerts Grand recitals. H. G. Jim Burns contributed to the review.