Perhaps because we have come to expect so much from the four guitar-playing Romeros, an off night, such as one at Ambassador Auditorium on Saturday, seems so facile, perfunctory and unmusical.
Throughout a program that ranged from Telemann to Moreno Torroba, the four--father Celedonio and sons Celin, Pepe and Angel--as a group woefully failed to characterize melodic lines, dramatize relationships among parts or shape works with any sense of purpose or inevitability.
And in a perennial quest for quartet repertory, they turned up a real clunker in a Suite from Bizet's "Carmen," with Angelita Romero, the family matriarch, contributing spirited castanet playing in the Prelude to Act IV. But forget about expressive, sensuous singing lines. Rarely has this music seemed so banal.
Generally the solo work was more impressive. Angel appeared to plumb, for him, new melancholic depths in Tarrega's "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" and Pepe, as usual, proved a master of fluttery touch and discriminating dynamics in Albeniz's "Sevilla." Unfortunately, Celin made vaporous mist of Albenez's "Rumores de la Caleta" and Celedonio played his own "Fantasia" more like a work in progress than a finished composition.
Still, for ensemble precision in executing speedy rhythms and chords, the four were strong and impressive. They gave music by Jimenez and a flamenco piece as encores.