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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
Dominican University / Sunday, November 10, 2013
Gustavo Romero, piano

Pianist Gustavo Romero Nov. 10

TOUR DE FORCE

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pianist Gustavo Romero has become a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing in several Santa Rosa halls and homes in recent years. On Nov. 1, he made his Marin County debut at Dominican University’s Guest Artist Series in Angelico Hall.

The Dallas-based artist eschews stage flair and keeps remarks to a minimum, instead sitting mostly motionless at the piano, left foot always on the shift pedal. He exhibits a palpable concentration on the matters at hand.

Romero opened with a sensuous Godowsky transcription of Bach’s Andante from the solo violin sonata in C Major. Here the contrapuntal lines were clear and the slow tempo perfect for the work. The sound abruptly changed for Schubert’s three "Klavierstücke" (piano pieces), D. 956. The E-Flat Minor piece had an energetic reading, almost raw in places, and the concluding C Major was played with fetching syncopations and harmonies. It was forceful Schubert throughout. The five concluding chords of each piece were perfectly weighted, each with a slight diminuendo. Mr. Romero is not a colorist and his muscular Schubert might not be to everyone's taste, but there were many colorful moments in this work from Schubert's last year.

Chopin’s Barcarolle, Op. 60, followed. Here Mr. Romero was in a ruminative mood, the lyrical lines flowing in an expansive interpretation that featured arabesque-like melodic contours.

Finishing the first half was the explosive tour-de-force Fantasy (1989) by Krystof Maratka, who was 17 years old at the time. Written for the pianist, the Fantasy was propulsive and martial throughout, and Mr. Romero mastered the formidable difficulties with both bravura and stamina. The Fantasy seems to link to the early 20th century composer George Antheil, with its loud hammered chords, wide skips in both hands and driving rhythms. The audience loved it and gave Romero a clangorous ovation.

Six of Rachmaninoff’s sonorous pieces comprised the second half, beginning with the Op. 3 Elegy. Here the long phrases had graceful beauty but also emphasized the piano’s out-of-tune treble notes. The Op. 32 Preludes came next (Nos. 10, 12 and 5) and were lovingly played. The great B Minor, a favorite of the composer, had the right juxtaposition of repose and drama, and in the popular G Major the chaste theme sang out. This Prelude and the subsequent Etude-Tableaux (Op. 33, No. 2) gave the impression of cold Russian winter nights, with sleigh bells ringing in the latter piece. The effect was captivating.

Following a orchestral final Prelude in D-Flat Major, the pianist’s solo encore was a signature piece for him, Turkish composer Fazil Say’s "Black Earth." Here sections of strings were muted by Romero’s left hand, simultaneously with rapid arpeggios played with the right hand, and then richly hued and widely-spaced resonant chords. It was an encore that capped a terrific recital from a serious and arresting musician.