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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...
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.