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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
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...
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.