A substantial and very enthusiastic audience turned out yesterday afternoon to hear the the Romeros at Sunset Center in Carmel (the third time they have appeared for the Carmel Music Society). It was a gala, season-opening occasion with guitarist Terrence Farrell playing softly in Sunset’s lobby, plus a post concert lovely reception with wine and sweets that included an opportunity to meet the artists.
Hearing the Romeros in concert is a powerful and moving experience. Celin, Pepe, Lito and Celino Romero are virtuosos in their own right, and when they come together, either in small ensembles or as a quartet, sparks fly and magic happens. Since staples of their repertoire include works by de Falla, Rodrigo and Villa-Lobos, we were not to be disappointed. Playing together as a quartet, they performed most masterfully “Three Dances” by Michael Praetorius, the first movement of Vivaldi’s Concerto in D Major (originally for lute and strings), two works by de Falla (one from the ballet,”The Three-Cornered Hat”), two lovely selections by Bizet (the perennial favorite Chanson du toréador and the Habanera) and ending with a knockout, mind-blowing performance of two movements of Suite flamenco by Pepe Romero.
One of the highlights of the first half of the program was Pepe Romero’s performance of Evocacion and Tonadilla from Arroyos de la Alhambra by Angel Barrios. To hear his artistry as a soloist demonstrated his powerful control of every aspect of the classical guitar and revealed his lovely shaping of phrases that grabbed our attention and held us spellbound. Also outstanding was the fine and totally fascinating performance by Pepe and Celino of two selections from Rodrigo’s Tonadilla.
After intermission Celin Romero mesmerized us with a haunting performance of Preludios No. 1 and No. 3. It was pure magic. Celino and Lito performed Misionera by Fernando Bustamante that was a perpetual motion tour de force combining amazing technical mastery and totally involving expressive delights. The windup of the concert was all four Romeros back again to blow us away with two movements of Pepe Romero’s Suite flamenca. Wow! This performance brought the audience to its feet with whistles and bravos. The Romeros gave us one encore — it was a wild improv, such as only they can do with such abandon it had our pulses racing and our spirits soaring.