Weekly Magazine


 La Orquesta Roja, by Salvador Dalí


SPECIAL LIVE PRESENTATION at All Saints Church in Carmel by one of the nation’s preeminent classical music historian-musicologists. His talk is titled: Beethoven-Innovation with Attitude. Click HERE


ENSEMBLE MONTEREY is proud to present the world premiere of Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds’ Sunset in My Hand, for chamber orchestra, chamber choir and youth choir. Cantiamo Cabrillo! director Cheryl Anderson wrote this introduction to the work,Deeply spiritual and extremely sensitive to environmental stimuli, Mr. Ešenvalds uses unusual sound sources to evoke a mood or stimulate imagination: tuned crystals, ceremonial bells and singing bowls, triangles played with knitting needles, rain sticks, and jaw harp, for example. He also interpolates indigenous chant into the body of the compositions, enhancing the existing harmonic treatment of the texts and honoring our past.” The title is derived from the last of seven poems Ešenvalds set to music, a verse called “I Hold the Sunset in My Hand” by Grace MacGowan Cooke, who settled in Carmel at age 45 in 1908. Other poets represented in these settings are Paulina Barda, Sara Teasdale, Pablo Neruda, Robinson Jeffers and Dana Gioia. A short description of coast redwoods by John Steinbeck is also included. Some of the titles flavor the work: “The Storm”, “Ode to the Smell of Firewood”, “Prayer at Winter Solstice.” The program, with performances in Corral de Tierra and Santa Cruz, will include an appearance by the composer. Also included is the piano concerto by the late Stephen Tosh, with Leah Parker Zumberge as soloist. YOUTH MUSIC MONTEREY COUNTY orchestras will perform “Dances of the World” on Sunday at Sunset Center, including music by Brahms, Grieg, Borodin, Dvořák and more. ESFERA ARMONIOSA, an early-music ensemble from Columbia, will perform at Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz. SAN LORENZO HIGH SCHOOL stages Grease in its new performing arts center in Felton. See our packed CALENDAR for details, numerous other events, and links. 


RECORDED IN 1973, she sings Claude Debussy








SUBTITLED SONGS THAT DEFINED HISTORY, this important new eight-part series proves once again the relevance of art and music as the paramount documentarian of history. Last Thursday’s series premiere surveyed the assassination of Martin Luther King with the music and artists of that era, including Stevie Wonder’s now-iconic Happy Birthday. Click HERE 


OSCAR WINNER, BEST SHORT FILM 2017. From Hungary. For a trailer, click HERE


INATTENTIVE journalist Barbara Rose Shuler last Thursday dismissed the Monterey Symphony’s final 2016-17 season concert program, which somehow still remains on the Symphony’s books for May 19-21. In its weekly entertainment tab Go! she wrote that last weekend’s program “brings…to a close” their current ‘Shakespeare in Music’ season. While BRS also calls it “our world-class Monterey Symphony,” she seems to suggest that they’ve already outlasted their current welcome. Meanwhile, next month the rest of us will get the Merry Wives of Windsor (the season’s Shakespearean theme continued) by Otto Nicolai, and music by Dvořák and César Franck.


KRISTIN FINLEY left a good job in LA for the high wire, and never looked back.








SPANISH-BORN pianist releases new CD of Schubert sonatas, one from the composer’s early 20s (D664) and one late (D960) as death was invading him at age 28. The 40-minute D960 begins with a sprawling molto moderato that proves to be far more profound than its opening suggests when a menacing growl challenges the first idea. At midway, a development section wanders into unprecedented shadows and doubts, certainly as original as anything from contemporary late-Beethoven. The andante sostenuto movement gives an opposite impression; down-turning to begin, then up-tempo. The manic scherzo is marked “delicatezza” and contains a darkly contrasting trio. The final allegro is too cheerful to extend the ‘visible darkness’ that seeps into the work overall. The early (1819?) D664, in A, is all good cheer. Schubert was still finding his way in sonata form but you can’t tell from this; it is equally self-assured. The later Michael Kennedy called Perianes “a natural Schubertian.” Reviewing an earlier Schubert CD, Kennedy wrote “Perianes’ playing captures its magic to perfection.” Ditto this understated and elegant new issue.”

Pellegrina-viola RivinusERGONOMIC VIOLINS

NOT SALVADOR DALÍ, but David Rivinus, Portland luthier, whose grotesque approach actually protects string players from injuries. Guess why it has taken many years for his instruments to catch on, which they are doing now. Click HERE


FROM QUEST FOR CAMELOT, 1990. At a radio station in Quezon City, Marcelito Pomoy covers both Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.








THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE at MPC, and Tom Parks’ THE LAST WORD at the Cherry in Carmel. Click HERE

MONTEREY SYMPHONY with soprano Cyndia Sieden, Click HERE

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca RC Brooks, associate editor

Monterey Symphony

SiedenBy Scott MacClelland

MONTEREY SYMPHONY CONDUCTOR Max Bragado-Darman has lifted his artistic game to a whole new level over the last three years. Yet I could not square his solo artist’s résumé with her Symphony performance on Sunday. Soprano Cyndia Sieden (left) was plainly not up to the promise of the program, even though her bio included a list of major operatic roles in world-famous houses and concert appearances with many of the top orchestras here and abroad.

Sieden presented a lyric voice, and a lightweight one at that, in the fifth movement of Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, the big Act IV scene from Verdi’s late opera Otello and the final movement from Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. The Brahms, an add-on, with I Cantori di Carmel and its music director Sal Ferrantelli conducting, was offered as a memorial for the many longtime Symphony supporters who have passed on in the last six months. Right away, Sieden was awash in the forces at hand and, though she gamely went for a spinto push, the voice struggled to make an impact in the Sunset Center auditorium.

That struggle intensified, or rather failed to intensify, in the 22-minute “Willow Song” and “Ave Maria” scene as Desdemona anticipates her death at the hands of her insanely jealous husband, then, in prayer, comes to embrace the inevitable. This is where the character’s personality must take the lead and carry the day. The body-language was there but it did not find its way onto the voice. In the German Fach (compartment) system, the character of Desdemona calls for a lyric-dramatic soprano. The ‘dramatic’ usually implies a voice with heft, a big instrument. But it also implies the making of a dramatic character—in other words it demands an actor. Sieden tried but only drifted in the direction of creating the role and, again, could not muscle up enough horsepower to pull it off.

Things did not improve in the final ten-minute solo from Mahler’s Fourth, a child’s description of life in heaven. Here, pitch insecurity started to nag. Only when the tempo slowed in the last half of this orchestral song did Sieden begin to regain confidence.

Meanwhile, Max Bragado-Darman and his orchestra were in excellent fettle. The Verdi scene is a vivid reminder that its composer, often cast as a throwback against his contemporary, Richard Wagner, was actually accelerating in the direction of Wagner with this work, ie, dramatic scenes in place of popular tunes. At its premiere in 1887, at Milan, Verdi was 74 and had long since retired following the success of Aïda, which premiered 16 years earlier. (When Otello premiered, Wagner was four years dead.)

In the Verdi, and even more so in the Mahler, Bragado showed how deeply he had probed this music. I would say he knew more about what is going on in these works than his soloist did, and his orchestra certainly responded in kind.

In the Mahler Bragado and his orchestra delivered an absolutely thrilling account of some of the most complex and effervescent music ever composed for an orchestra. How Mahler did it boggles my mind. (And he kept doing it for six more symphonies, the last unfinished but still cutting-edge.) How, for example, was he able to concoct such fragility and bombast at the same time? How did he take the idea of the symphony—an historic combination of repetition and surprise—to the very edge of coherency?

Yet, here it was, a pageant of cameo solos and symphonic authority that made oil and water emulsify. The long first movement, opening with sleigh bells, seems idyllic, childlike, before the adventure starts to turn serious, circuitously early on, then determined, as it builds to a frightening climax signaled by trumpet fanfares that predict—and indeed will recycle in—the huge funeral march that opens the composer’s Fifth Symphony. As opening movements go, this is/was nothing short of a 4th of July fireworks show, all sizzle and spectacle, yet still making sense.

Of all the magic and mystery of the similarly schizophrenic second and third movements, the principal horn, Daniel Nebel, (CORRECTION: the solo horn for this concert was Alex Camphouse) played what amounted to a horn concerto, brilliantly. What a find, this guy!

What I love about Mahler’s symphonies is the gauntlet he throws down. The mournful cor anglais (played by Ruth Stuart Burroughs), the clarinets with their bells aimed directly at the audience, the cavorting horns, the sparingly used harp, the sleigh bells in the percussion. Mahler was painting a pre-Schoenberg ‘expressionist’ music at the same time Debussy was writing atonal ‘impressionist’ music. Love Debussy, but Mahler was at least as visionary in the 20th century sweepstakes.