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Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
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.