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Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
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.