The Romeros these days remarkably encompass three generations of guitarists--father Celedonio, sons Pepe and Celin, and grandson Celino. The popular quartet's ninth visit to Ambassador Auditorium brought out a large and happy following Wednesday night.
But the concert got off to a slow start and, though always competent and pleasing, turned out to be only intermittently engaging thereafter. This was partly due to the program, which, to these ears, spoke a little too insistently in a Spanish accent.
Also, the departure of Angel in 1990, and the substitution of Celino in his place, has left Pepe as the only true virtuoso in the group, or at least he was the only one on this occasion to regularly display the instrumental charisma we associate with that term.
The quartet began with three inconsequential dances from Praetorius"'Terpischore," and Pepe and Celino continued with Sor's "L'encouragement," a by-the-book set of variations on a tune of organ-grinder inanity. Celino followed with Tarrega's "Capricho arabe," and poor intonation and memory lapses brought this down.
It remained, then, for Pepe to get things going, and this he did with Tarrega's "Gran jota."
Quartet performances of Boccherini's "Introduction and Fandango" and Turina's "La oracion del torero" proved tepid and tentative, but Falla's "Miller's Dance" and "Ritual Fire Dance" showed both more poise and vigor.
On his own, Celin revealed a soft touch and musical sensitivity in Albeniz's "Rumores de la Caleta" and two preludes by Villa-Lobos. Eighty-one-year-old Celedonio gave jaunty, fluent readings of two of his own preludes.
Tuneful selections from Jeronimo Jimenez's zarzuela "La boda de Luis Alonso," Celedonio's "Malaguenas" and an incandescent flamenco improvisation wound things up buoyantly and forcefully.