MUSIC REVIEWS : Guitarist Cobo Plays at Ambassador

Guitarist Ricardo Cobo came to Ambassador Auditorium with what looked like an adventurous and even exotic program in tow, but in the end it seemed as if we hadn't gone anywhere.

Actually, there was very little variety in the music chosen Monday night and, given Cobo's own untheatrical musical disposition, the recital became needlessly tedious. One felt that he hadn't put his best foot forward.

The multiple-prize-winning Colombian musician certainly has a full technical arsenal at his disposal, and for guitar groupies--who knows?--it might have been a stunning show. With gentle amplification applied, Cobo offered a wealth of quiet detail, nuance and tone color, in fluent, easygoing readings.

What was missing in this final concert in the 1993-94 Gold Medal series was contrast from piece to piece--all written by conservative modern composers, and generally Latin-flavored--and direction and drama in the music making.

Short works by Francis Kleynjans, Salvador Brotons, Nikita Koshkin, Roland Dyens and Leo Brouwer might be fine to visit on occasion, but they hardly seemed the material to base a concert on. Cobo wasn't unearthing lost, or discovering new, treasures here, though his apparent attempt to do so is, of course, admirable. Rodrigo's "Invocacion y Danse" was a welcome classic to throw in, but he played it with such contemplative quietude that it failed to take off.

Only Cobo's own piquant arrangements of two tangos by Piazzolla really sparkled. And when the last piece, Dyens' "Fuoco," suddenly (finally) caught fire, catching the audience by surprise, it was too little, too late.

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