Weekly Magazine

THIS WEEK

RICHARD STOLTZMAN, acclaimed clarinetist, joins the Borromeo String Quartet (above) in Carmel. WILD COAST BRASS quintet plays twice in Aptos. PATTI SMITH plays the Rio in Santa Cruz; likewise the PAUL THORN band and comedian JANEANE GAROFALO. EUPHORIA opens a run at the Cherry in Carmel. For links to these and dozens of other live performance events, click our CALENDAR

GRENADILLA RISING

WITH RICHARD STOLTZMAN returning to Carmel, the black wood of choice for clarinets, oboes and piccolos from sub-Sahara Africa, often called African blackwood (pictured), has nothing to do with their sound/timbre. Clarinet maker Tom Ridenour explodes the ‘myth.’ Click HERE  

ESPRESSIVO’S HEARTBURN

SC CHAMBER ORCHESTRA’S desperate plea. Click HERE  

REBECCA MILLER SCORES ANOTHER MAJOR POST

SANTA CRUZ’S England-based conductor and one-time SC Symphony music director candidate adds Uppsala Chamber Orchestra to her international career. She also leads the Royal Tunbridge Wells Choral Society and Orchestra, the Royal Holloway University Orchestra and is associate conductor of the Southbank Sinfonia. Click HERE

NEW ARTISTIC LEADERSHIP AT SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY

FORMER SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY music director, the frequently-flying Dutchman Edo de Waart has been named principal guest conductor at the San Diego Symphony for the next three years, the first time the orchestra has offered such a post. He will work with music director Rafael Payare, an El Sistema grad, and chief exec Martha Gilmer. De Waart, who lives in Wisconsin, is also music director of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Click HERE

GOODBYE DOLLY

CAROL CHANNING dies at 97. Diamonds remain a girl’s best friend. Click HERE   

 

OLDEST KNOWN MELODY DATES FROM 1400 BC

FROM the iron-age Armenian kingdom of Urartu, and in cuneiform notation. Read  about it and listen to it HERE  

SHOW TRIALS OF ARTISTS UNDER PUTIN

IS STALINISM returning its notorious repression with a vengeance? Anna Nemtsova reports for The Atlantic. Click HERE

HOW MOTOWN CHANGED MUSIC IN AMERICA

HOUSE OF the Jacksons, The Supremes, The Miracles, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, 60 years on. Click HERE  

TAPPING FOR JUSTICE

AT THE NORTHWEST TAP CONNECTION, students don’t just dance around the issues of race and social justice; they confront them head-on, one step at a time.

 

NEW REVIEWS

PHILIP PEARCE’S review of 8 Tens @ 8 “B” now published. Click HERE

PIANIST KEVIN LEE SUN in Carmel. NAKAMURA-MANASSE duo concert in Santa Cruz. Click HERE

NEXT WEEK

JEWEL THEATRE opens Red Velvet at the Colligan in Santa Cruz. AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS at UC Santa Cruz. GRENADILLA QUINTET plays Carmel. SANTA CRUZ SYMPHONY plays twice.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @PerfArtsMtyBay

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor

 

Grenadilla Rising

By Scott MacClelland   

IT STARTED on Friday when clarinetist Jon Manasse joined his longtime piano collaborator Jon Nakamatsu in a recital for the Distinguished Artists Series in Santa Cruz. (It will continue this Saturday when clarinetist Richard Stoltzman joins the Borromeo String Quartet at Sunset Center, and the following Saturday when clarinetist Bruce Belton joins cellist Amy Anderson and her string quartet at Unitarian Universalist on Aguajito Road in Carmel.) 

All respect for Manasse who smoothly and purely (without vibrato) navigated Brahms’ Clarinet Sonata in F Minor, Leonard Bernstein’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (his “first published work”) and some shorter bits composed for the duo in this century. But as fine as were these performances Nakamatsu’s recreation of Chopin’s Andante spianato and Grand Polonaise Brillante was the evening’s out-of-the-park home run. (How these two totally individual pieces, the Andante and the Polonaise, came to be connected remains a mystery.) I searched for a reliable French translation of ‘cheeky,’—voici! effronté—a perfect match to Nakamatsu’s digital winks at the ‘over the top’ Polonaise. 

(Nakamatsu has developed one of the most successful long-term careers among the elite club of Cliburn medalists. He is the primary subject of a 2014 interview published by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that you can read HERE)   

In his late 50s, having already announced his retirement from composing, Brahms took inspiration from the Meiningen-based clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld to compose four fabulous pieces of chamber music for the instrument: two sonatas, a trio and a quintet. (A similar stroke of fortune occurred to Mozart when the clarinetist Anton Stadler fell into his life.) In the seductive slow movement of the Brahms, the composer delivers another of his magic tricks, one of his smoothest ever elisions from a descending line on the clarinet that hooks seamlessly into its conclusion on the piano, an effect that beguilingly makes only four appearances.

The two-movement Bernstein, completed in 1942, begins as a grazioso with a theme that echoes the influence of Paul Hindemith, who was, at the time, composer-in-residence at Tanglewood. The jazzy second movement, Vivace e leggiero after a slower introduction, is rife with abrupt meter changes, the very rhythmic energy that bears such ripe fruit in later works, like Prelude, Fugue and Riffs (also for clarinet) and West Side Story. Here Manasse swallowed the good Kool-Aid to splendid effect.

That spirit ensued in the fourth movement, Big Phat Band, from Four Views for Clarinet and Piano (2012) by Gordon Goodwin, named for Goodwin’s own band. The two Jons also played the lyrical third movement. (Goodwin is probably better known for the film music he has composed and/or arranged for The Incredibles, The Majestic, Glory Road, Remember the Titans, Gone in 60 Seconds, Enemy of the State and many more.

But for encores, the program ended with John Novak’s “Full Stride Ahead” from Four Rags for Two Jons (2006), which I believe ragtime pioneer Scott Joplin would have envied.