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Recital
DYNAMIC PIANISM IN YAKUSHEV MARIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev arrived Jan. 23 at his Mill Valley Chamber Music Society recital with the repute of playing loud and fast and delivering charming introductory musical remarks to his audience. He was true to form in Mill Valley’s Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church, preceding Haydn’s sple
Symphony
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 9, 2022
The Jan. 9 Santa Rosa Symphony concert was supposed to feature the world premiere of Gabriella Smith’s first symphony, but it ended up featuring another type of premiere: a concert that was conceived, rehearsed and performed in less than eight hours. Symphony staff learned on Sunday morning that so
Choral and Vocal
AN OLD FRIEND RETURNS TO WEILL IN STERLING ABS MESSIAH PERFORMANCE
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, December 19, 2021
A tremendous accomplishment by the American Bach Soloists Dec. 19 was near perfect performance of Handel's Messiah in Weill Hall. Long an annual tradition at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, the ABS took to the road and delivered a Christmas gift of epic proportions to an obviously thrilled and enth
Symphony
SHOSTAKOVICH FIFTH THUNDERS AT WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 5, 2021
In a new season marketed as “Classical Reunion,” the Santa Rosa Symphony made a palpable connection with its audience at the early December set of three standing ovation concerts in Weill Hall. The December 5 concert, with 1,000 attending, is reviewed here. Vaughan Williams’ popular Fantasia on a T
Chamber
THE LINCOLN RETURNS WITH CLARKE'S PUNGENT TRIO
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, November 18, 2021
There were many familiar faces Nov. 18 during Music at Oakmont’s initial concert of the season, but perhaps the most necessary were the three musicians of the Lincoln Piano Trio, the Chicago-based group that has performed often in Oakmont since 2006. A smaller than unusual audience in Berger Audito
Symphony
NOSTALGIC BARBER KNOXVILLE AT SO CO PHIL JACKSON THEATER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
In their first Jackson Theater appearance of the new season the Sonoma County Philharmonic presented Nov. 14 a program devoid of novelty, but showcasing the “People’s Orchestra” in splendid performance condition after a long COVID-related layoff. Conductor Norman Gamboa drew a committed and boister
Chamber
THRILLING PIANO QUINTETS IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 14, 2021
The Mill Valley Chamber Music Society sprang back to life on November 14 when a stellar ensemble from the Manhattan Chamber Players, a New York-based collective, arrived to perform two piano quintets: Vaughn-Williams’ in C Minor (1903), little known and rarely performed; and Schubert’s in A Major D.
Chamber
MUSCULAR BRAHMS FROM IVES COLLECTIVE IN GLASER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Leaving SRJC’s Newman Auditorium for the first time in decades, the College’s Chamber Concert Series presented a season-opening concert Nov. 14 in Santa Rosa’s Glaser Center with the four-musician Bay-Area based Ives Collective. The season, the first given since 2020, is dedicated to Series Founder
Symphony
MONUMENTAL BRAHMS SYMPHONY HIGHLIGHTS MARIN SYMPHONY RETURN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 7, 2021
In the waning COVID pandemic the Marin Symphony is one of the last Bay Area orchestras to return to the stage, and they did with considerable fanfare Nov. 7 before 1,200 in Civic Center Auditorium, with resident conductor Alasdair Neale leading a demanding concert of Brahms, Schumann and New York-ba
Symphony
APOLLO'S FIRE LIGHTS UP VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Long ago the Canadian violin virtuoso Gil Shaham played a program in Weill Hall of solo Bach, with a visual backdrop of slowly developing visuals, such as a pokey flower opening over four minutes. The Bach was sensational, and some in the audience liked the photos but many found them disconcerting,
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.