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MUSIC REVIEWS

Long Beach Guitar Series Puts Accent on Diversity

July 17, 1996|JOHN HENKEN

The defining characteristic of the CSU Summer Arts Guitar and Lute Series may be that there is no defining characteristic--diversity is all. Certainly the first of the six joint recitals, Monday at Daniel Recital Hall of Cal State Long Beach, took the assembled students and public outside the repertory mainstream, with lutenist John Schneiderman playing three sonatas by Adam Falckenhagen and guitarist Ricardo Iznaola offering a centennial tribute to guitarist Regino Sainz de la Maza.

Iznaola saluted his former teacher, who died in 1981, with De la Maza's typically supple and evocative "Canciones Castellanas" in controlled, expressive accounts. Three of Iznaola's own Concert Etudes, challenging music full of character, were written while he was studying with De la Maza. Iznaola showed that he learned his lessons well.

The Cuban guitarist, now teaching at the University of Denver, made a persuasive case for the uneven but powerful and intriguing four-movement sonata written for De la Maza that is the chief surviving monument of Antonio Jose, who was executed during the Spanish Civil War at the age of 34. An assured musician with flair as well as technique, he did the same for a coeval brace of quirky homages by Gustavo Pittaluga.

Iznaola's transcription of Manuel de Falla's "Ritual Fire Dance," however, proved a largely unsuccessful stunt musically. He immediately countered that impression of blunt force trauma, though, with the Federico Mompou's Cancion No. 6 in a tender encore.

A reserved performer attentive to the score before him, Schneiderman at first left the fragile charms of Falckenhagen's gallant sonatas largely unsupported. Apparently little struck by the improvisatory intimations of the opening Largo of the Sonata in F, he plucked along placidly, dutifully taking all repeats but with nary a hint of expressive elaboration. The music drew him out as it developed, however, and the UC Irvine faculty member saved the best for last, emerging with virtuoso vigor in the dramatic and highly demonstrative Sonata in C minor.

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