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GAULIST FLAVOR IN FINAL SF PIANO FESTIVAL CONCERT AT OLD FIRST
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Final summer music festival programs are often a mix of what has come before, with the theme and even a featured composer taking a last stage appearance, with a dramatic wrap up composition. San Francisco’s International Piano Festival defied the norm August 29 with an eclectic French-flavored prog
SPARE DUO PRECEDES MYSTEROUS DUO AT DEN BOER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, August 27, 2021
In a departure from usual summer festival fare Julia Den Boer played an August 27 virtual recital in the San Francisco Piano Festival’s 4.5 season with four works, all mostly quiet but all in separate ways insistently demanding of artist and listener. Throughout the 40 minutes there was nary a powe
HARMONIC COMPLEXITY IN PHILLIPS' ALL-GRIFFES RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, August 20, 2021
Charles Griffes’ piano music is similar to that of Busoni, Reger and even Poulenc, in that there is a sporadic flourish of interest with concerts and scholarly work, then a quick fade into another long period of obscurity. So, it was a delight to have an all-Griffes recital August 20 on the San F
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ONE PIANO, TWO PIANO, THREE PIANO, FORE
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Schroeder Hall was nearly full July 29 for the final pianoSonoma concert of their season, and presumably the draw and highlight for many of the 150 attending was Bach’s Concerto for Four Pianos. And that performance was probably going to be a North Bay premiere. However, it wasn’t the highl
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PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT FEATURES GORGEOUS VOCALISM
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Thursday, July 29, 2021
The 2021 Valley of the Moon Music Festival continued on July 29 with a sumptuous online offering of French songs, concluding with the second piano quartet by Fauré, Op. 45. Such a beautiful bouquet of video performances wonderfully filmed and recorded softened the disappointment of not being able to
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SIX GUITARISTS IN UNIQUE NAPA RECITAL
by Gary Digman
Sunday, July 25, 2021
The first Napa Valley Guitar Festival was held at Napa’s First Presbyterian Church July 25, and featured performances from six classical guitarists. The Church is an iconic structure in downtown Napa, its huge white presence dominating the scene, and the white theme continues inside punctuated by be
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BOGAS' TENURE ENDS IN OUTDOOR GUALALA CHAMBER CONCERT
by Iris Lorenzfife
Sunday, July 25, 2021
The preconcert call that music lovers should gather at Gualala Arts July 25 to attend the final Roy Bogas and Friends Concert was not quite as dire as it sounded. It seems that a year of Covid 19 and an 88th birthday had combined to convince Mr. Bogas that he was working too hard. But with cellist P
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CLARA SCHUMANN TRIO COMMANDS VOM CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT AT HANNA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 24, 2021
The Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Series has begun several virtual and a few live concerts in its new seventh season, some broadcast from Sonoma’s Hanna Center Hall and some in posh local venues. July 24’s video had a small live audience and a well-produced video program of three works. Titled “
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RARE LANG SONGS SPARKLE AT VOM FESTIVAL VIDEO RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Unexpected pleasures are often the best. Valley of the Moon Chamber Festival presented a such a pleasure last week-a July 21 recorded performance by tenor Kyle Stegall and pianist Eric Zivian in another mini-recital (very mini-just 15 minutes!) of six songs by the nineteenth century German composer
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EXEMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MENDO FESTIVAL FT. BRAGG CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Faced with the impossibility of presenting concerts in the iconic large white tent on the bluff, the Mendocino Music Festival opted to use Ft. Bragg’s Cotton Auditorium for ten events in the abbreviated 35th season. San Francisco’s Alexander String Quartet played July 21 to a fully masked audience
RECITAL REVIEW
Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series / Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Gustavo Romero, piano

Pianist Gustavo Romero

ROMERO'S ARTISTRY IN SLV RECITAL PROGRAMMING AND PERFORMANCE

by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Gustavo Romero has been an admired visitor to North Bay stages, playing over a decade recitals at Dominican University, the Music at Oakmont concerts and at the Spring Lake Village Concert Series.

He returned June 2 to SLV in a virtual recital, videoed from his home concert hall the University of North Texas at Denton. UT/Denton has America’s largest music school, and Mr. Romero has been on the faculty there for many years.

Mr. Romero often focuses on one composer a season, but here he began after a concise verbal introduction with Haydn’s great C Major Sonata (Hob. XVI:48), from 1789. The piano sound was bright and the tempos in the variations judicious. Alberti bass figures abounded in the finale and the artist’s phrasing captured the witty nature of the music. Mordents and turns were brisk. Exemplary.

Three Chopin works followed, beginning with the E Minor Nocturne, Op. Post., and the C Minor Mazurka from Op. 56, No. 3. Both were recital highlights. The rise and fall of phrase and lovely cantabile characterized the Nocturne with extended inter-section pauses. Careful pedaling allowed the phrases for overlap. Playing in the Mazurka produced a nostalgic dance of almost six minutes, underscoring the mystery of this wonderful piece.

Arguably one of the composer’s greatest works, the B Minor Sonata (Op. 58) received a thoughtful performance with attention to detail, occasional chord breaking, some inner voices and in the opening Allegro Maestoso a one-time score variant (not the rare variant that occurs before the two main theme statements). It might have been a tiny memory lapse, but doubtful, as the pianist’s concentration was palpable and convincing.

The chosen tempo in the Scherzo was moderate, and in the work’s marvelous central Largo Mr. Romero’s rich bass sound and pedal point were effective. He rightly made a big ritard before the coda, and the pensive last two chords were beautifully played.

The finale (Presto) was a little underplayed but the pianist found novel inner voices and his rhythmic control was firm. It was an interpretation of high artistry, well crafted, and perhaps lacking only the last bit of individuality, sonority and authority.

Two Paderewski works from Op. 14 were surprising programming, the Sarabande being played in the style of Couperin and Rameau. The bantamweight ending was charming, even more effective as the following Capriccio reflected Paderewski’s homage to Scarlatti. Mr. Romero’s cross hand technique was exact and his articulation in scales was clear.

With such interesting pieces the artist’s choice for a conclusion had to be unique, and Alfred Grünfeld’s transcription from Strauss’ operetta “Die Fledermaus” was just that – Soirée de Vienne, Op. 56. Mr. Romero played many of the repeated sections differently, a tradition from the romantic pianist era, and he was flawless in rapid chords, legato Arpeggios and contrary motion skips. The performance had just the right amount of schmaltz and Austrian seduction.