MUSIC: ENSEMBLE MONTEREY and CANTIAMO! CABRILLO perform “Song of Praise,” in Carmel and Santa Cruz. PIANIST JEREMY DENK brings his art to Sunset Center. SANTA CRUZ CHORALE (pictured above) sings “Handel, Bach & Purcell” at Holy Cross. TERENCE BLANCHARD returns to Kuumbwa. THEATER: MPC THEATRE opens The Adventures of Robin Hood. JEWEL THEATRE opens The Odd Couple on May 2. CHERRY CENTER opens Jane Press’ My Mother’s Keeper. THE WESTERN STAGE launches Emma! A Pop Musical. For links to these live events, click our CALENDAR or the ads, left.
CAN MUSIC SET YOU FREE?
“SONGS IN THE KEY OF FREE” is a new project designed for prison inmates. Click HERE
A GOOD REASON TO BE IN PHILLY THIS SATURDAY
THE REVIVAL of Frank Zappa’s Yellow Shark. Click HERE
WHY MUSICIANS NEED PHILOSOPHY
FUTURE SYMPHONY INSTITUTE’s Roger Scruton makes the argument. Click HERE
ELGAR, THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK
AT LONG LAST John Bridcut’s superb documentary of the most talented and enigmatic English composer of the early 20th Century, Edward Elgar, is now available on DVD. BBC aired it in 2010; two of its most authoritative interviewees, biographer Michael Kennedy and conductor Colin Davis, have since died. The Venezuelan conductor Natalia Luis-Bassa persuaded the Simon Bolivar Orchestra to perform Elgar’s Second Symphony, a work they had never heard but fell in love with. Bridcut exposes a musical genius, tormented with being born low class yet craving a peerage, vainglorious and manipulative, and drawn to younger female muses to the bitter humiliation of his wife. In the years before his death in 1934, Elgar could already see that he would be swept aside by a wave of Stravinsky and Schoenberg modernism. But he is now gaining long-deserved recognition as the “English Mahler.” The composer of “Enigma” Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, The Dream of Gerontius, The Apostles with its sympathetic portrait of Judas Iscariot, Sospiri, his deeply personal reflections on World War I, and the similarly inspired last completed major orchestral work, the Cello Concerto of 1919.
“WE NEED A NEW ROMANTICISM”
SO SAYS science writer and biologist Jim Kozubek. Click HERE
SCHUBERT’s Piano Trio in E-flat, is one of two great piano trios composed over a span of in two weeks in 1827 that are two of the most bewitching masterpieces of the early 19th century. This one, the more dramatic, gets an outstanding reading in this new Bridge Records release. Schubert was a master of suspense and the four-movement work is loaded with it, gushing with a flood of spontaneous ideas, mottoes and themes. Schubert also recycles the material using guile and disguise. Music from the second movement, Andante, shows up in the long (19 minutes) final movement which, here, uses the original version now gaining favor over the shortened one Schubert was persuaded to write for publication. With that, and the generously phrased opening Allegro, the performance overall comes in at 50 minutes. (I listened to the CD three times before I finally timed its “heavenly length,” as Robert Schumann described Schubert’s “Great” C Major Symphony.) But what makes it seem shorter is personality, the exuberant pleasure expressed by all three executants, violinist Niklas Walentin, cellist Jacob la Cour and pianist Alexander McKenzie. Except for occasional cameos, string quartets rarely encourage individuality among their players. Not so for piano trios, especially this one. There is revelry at every turn. I emailed violinist Niklas Walentin asking him to explain the name Vitruvi. He graciously responded, that it “was inspired by the writings of the Roman architect and philosopher Vitruvius, whose ideas about proportions, beauty, structure and the relationship between the natural and human worlds we found particularly relevant to the musical universe.” He added, “We also like the sound and rhythm of the name.” (See Leonardo’s famous Vitruvian Man, left.) Rounding out the disc is the surviving movement from an unfinished piano trio from the same time period, now known as “Notturno,” an utterance both haunting and intimate. SM
THE APOLLO EXECUTIONER
BEEN BOOED off the stage? You can always come back and try again.
MONTEREY SYMPHONY with Juan Pérez Floristán. Click HERE
SANTA CRUZ SYMPHONY performs Gustav Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony with guest soloists & Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus. JEWEL THEATRE opens Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple at the Colligan.
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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor