At a Harvardwood-sponsored recital at the Down Town Association, the Argentinian pianist Rosa Antonelli demonstrated why critics and audiences have held her in high regard throughout her career. The program consisted mostly of works by well-known Spanish composers (Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados) and tangos by Astor Piazzolla, the Argentinian powerhouse whose seemingly countless works incorporate jazz and classical harmonies into the popular tango form and lend themselves to a variety of arrangements including, as evidenced by this concert, solo piano.
But the pianist opened with a piece clearly close to her heart, one composed by her own teacher, Angel Lasala. Ultra-romantic but with unexpected dissonances, the prelude “Romancera” was a fitting introduction to Ms. Antonelli’s warm-hearted, openly emotional style.
A sequence of Piazzolla tangos, some inspired by the composer’s long residence in Paris, ranged in mood from dense and stormy to melancholic and tender. The splashily passionate tango “Ciao, Paris” transitioned us across the Atlantic to Spain and the famous “Granada” from Albéniz’s Suite Espanol. This suite contains some of the most popular pieces by any Spanish-speaking composer (even The Doors adapted one).
“Granada,” written for the piano but meant to suggest the sounds and patterns of the guitar, accompanies its main theme with delicate, repeated broken chords in the right hand. During the reprise, when the left hand melodic lines are heralded by deep, rising arpeggios, Ms. Antonelli took a liberty with the score by adding more right-hand chords to carry us through the extra rubato time. Like her judicious and skillful use of the soft pedal in several pieces, that liberty struck me as both crafty and heartfelt; it worked beautifully.
Three waltzes by Albéniz were less familiar but because of their form, more traditional-sounding, and highly satisfying. As the recital drew to its conclusion Enrique Granados’s “Allegro de concierto” proved to be, as Ms. Antonelli said before her bravura performance, both “very difficult and very romantic.” Those latter pieces, previously unknown to me, formed a dramatic and impressive climax to a delightful and interesting evening of tastefully passionate performances.