Weekly Magazine

EDITOR’S NOTE: DUE TO A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS WE WERE UNABLE TO PUBLISH THE MAY 4 EDITION OF THE WEEKLY MAGAZINE. WE ARE WORKING TO ELIMINATE SUCH INTERRUPTIONS IN FUTURE BUT CHOOSE TO PUBLISH MAY 5 AS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD. WE ALSO INCLUDE TWO NEW THEATER REVIEWS FROM THIS PAST WEEKEND.

NEW THIS WEEK

CELLIST ALISA WEILERSTEIN on Friday from Washington DC. MUSIC IN THE GARDEN,  live fundraiser for Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, May 9, Mother’s Day. SAME AS IT EVER WASN’T online, on stage. HOWARD BURNHAM’S Napoleon’s Highs and Lows this Saturday.  

DISNEY DRIVE-IN CONCERT

THURSDAY, MAY 13, 7:30PM. Monterey County Fairgrounds, King City. Click ad left

SMUIN AL FRESCO

SMUIN CONTEMPORARY BALLET announces ‘Smuin al Fresco’ featuring three fresh programs highlighting “Smuin Songbook” favorites, plus a fourth show unveiling all-new dancer creations. Pre-recorded at an outdoor venue, each program will star a different “pod” of Smuin dancers performing highlights from founder Michael Smuin’s canon of classical and pop favorites, playful solos from “The Tempest,” an excerpt from acclaimed choreographer Trey McIntyre’s “Blue Until June,” and more. The special fourth showing, Offstage/Onscreen 2021, will be dedicated to unveiling exciting new dance films choreographed, danced, and recorded by Smuin’s multi-talented artists in gorgeous outdoor settings around the Bay Area. Smuin al Fresco will take place May 6 – 30 (7:30pm Thursdays and 5:00pm Sundays). For tickets ($25 single tickets, $75 all-access pass for all four programs), Click HERE  

CHOREOGRAPHERS COPYRIGHT THEIR DANCE MOVES

BEYONCÉ, Megan Thee Stallions move to protect their creations. Click HERE 

FOR THE THIRD VOLUME OF COMPOSERS IN CONVERSATION

CABRILLO FESTIVAL music director hosted Tan Dun and Wynton Marsalis in what turned out to be a loving debriefing of their last two triumphs in Santa Cruz, Tan Dun and Wynton Marsalis, in 2019. Click HERE    

MILLS COLLEGE MUSIC UNDER THREAT

HISTORIC LEGACY must be saved. Click HERE   

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

A GLAMOROUS AND WELCOME new collection of romantic operatic scenes.

OKSANA VOLKOVA inhabits these alternatively hapless and treacherous heroines while always on the prowl. Trained in her native Belarus, savor her clarion high range against the smoky tones of her low mezzo. And be surprised by her rare repertoire from the French from Gounod’s Sapho, to Saint-Saëns’ Dalila to Thomas’ Mignon, and Massenet’s Le cid; from the Italian Mascagni’s Santuzza’ Voi lo sapete to Cilea’s Acerba valutta. Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky are here too. And the most unexpected: a scene from The Gray Legend (1978) by Belarusian Dmitry Smolski. Constantine Orbelian conducts the fine Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra of Lithuania. This is another triumph from Delos Records. SM  

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE Mozart’s Double- and Triple- piano concertos reappear on a new CD. The magical flame of Mozart is the magnet even though not all of the man’s music rewards the hungry ear with the same transcendental experiences that pave the way to heaven. But while these two works are too good to ignore, they aren’t the automatic entrée into the genius composer’s rarefied world. (A deeper and more rewarding dive pays off with Mozart’s almost miraculous discoveries in the solo concerto, opera, chamber music and the symphony..Tomar Levy is the spark behind this revival as he joins fellow pianists Berenika Glixman, Daniel Borovitzky and Alon Kariv with the English Chamber Orchestra led by Stephanie Conley. The concerto for Three pianos in F, K242 was a commission from Salzburg and dates from 1776. Its textures are richer than might have been expected at the time and place. The concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat, K365 dates from c. 1779. The fragmentary larghetto and jaunty allegro for two pianos and orchestra in E-flat, completed by Levy, dates from c. 1781, just before the opera Idomeneo. SM   

OPERA SAN JOSÉ FLOURISHING

THANKS TO ARTISTIC DIRECTOR KHORI DASTOOR. Click HERE 

OLYMPIA REIGNS

FRESH REVIEWS  Howard Burnham’s Napoleon’s Highs and Lows. Alcott’s Little Women at Carmel’s Forest Theater. Click HERE

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @PerfArtsMtyBay

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor

 

Weekly Magazine

NEW THIS WEEK

CRISTIAN MAČELARU & pianist Simon Trpčeski with the National Orchestra of France in a live online concert from Paris, Thursday, 11am. JAZZ FLUTE KENNY STAHL performs Thursday evening from St Ignatius Parish in San Francisco. “SAME AS IT EVER WAS” set of three plays in one, Friday & Saturday. DIVINE QUANTUM ELDERS’ Consciousness Vaccine Friday from UC Santa Cruz. COMPOSERS IN CONVERSATION from Cabrillo Festival: Wynton Marsalis and Tan Dun join Cristian Mačelaru online, Saturday at 11am. RAY OBIEDO QUINTET from Kuumbwa Jazz on Monday. FOR DETAILS AND LINKS, CLICK HERE

NEW JAZZ FESTIVAL FROM SAN JOSE

SAN JOSE JAZZ inaugural edition, New Works Festival, four nights of streamed concerts by 12 artists, April 30 through May 8, from their popup venue, the Break Room. Click HERE   

MUSIC@MENLO ANNOUNCES FOR 2021

JULY 16-AUGUST 1, performing in Menlo School’s new Spieker Center for the Arts, live and online. Guest artists pictured. To read the season brochure, “Gather,” click HERE    

TIM RAYBORN’S ‘VOICES OF THE ANCIENTS’

MUSICIAN/STORYTELLER took the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival back to the first millennium AD for an extravagant tour of cultures much older than most lovers of early music dare to go. For nearly ninety minutes Rayborn played lyres, drums, percussive rattles and flutes of wood and bone. Some of his stories were so embedded in their original languages as to be virtually incomprehensible, but delivered with such force of personality as to easily convey the urgency of their message. He sang some of his stories and also quoted from Odin in English translated from old Norse. Festival founder Linda Burman-Hall, insatiably curious as ever, peppered Rayborn with questions during the Q&A interviews. While this was the final concert of the current season, the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival has several post-season events yet to go. SM

RACHMANINOFF’S MONSTER CADENZA

FROM the Third Piano Concerto, as ‘rendered’ by ten great virtuosos.

BALLET RACISM IN BERLIN PUNISHED

CHLOÉ LOPES GOMEZ filed a racism complaint last year. She said that a ballet teacher had told her to apply white powder for Swan Lake, said that she had been hired only because she was black, and told a colleague that “she thought it had been a mistake to hire me because a black woman spoils the aesthetics.” She now has a new contract. Click HERE 

HOW JAZZ MUSICIANS REMEMBER CHICK COREA

NOT EVERYONE WAS A FAN yet he remains impossible to ignore. Click HERE   

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

SPARKS VOL II consists of eight short works—five to nine minutes in duration—for string players from the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra by eight composers not previously known to me. And it selfishly stays that way. While Navona Records provides program notes, all but one written by its composer, it remains no more than a guess that each is likely American and that all were likely composed since 2000. (Even an independent search soon turns into a snipe hunt.) The composers, in order of their appearance, are Dave Dexter, William C White, Simon Andrews, Rain Worthington, Allen Brings, John A Carollo, John Franek and Jeff Mangels. (Guess which one is female.) Some pieces dance, others are darkly moody while still others express deep, personal feelings. Dexter’s Hiraeth—a Welsh word for homesickness—catches the nostalgic yearning heard in Vaughan Williams’ Thomas Tallis Fantasia. Franek’s Torso, featuring four solo violins, speaks to his ‘Anxiety disorder.’ Bottom line, however, is that each of these pieces is eminently listenable and well performed; each leaves its own allure to come listen again. Sharing conducting duties are Stanislav Vavřínek and Jiří Petrdlik. SM   

DEATH HAS LONG BEEN a central subject of the arts, resulting in “the most exalted and inexhaustible expression,” as the pianist Stephen Hough writes in the liner notes to “Vida Breve” CD. Hough’s bona fides have long since stood the test of time. (He’s one of the ten playing the solo cadenza from Rachminoff’s Third Concerto, referenced above.) Most of the pieces on this new Hyperion release make some sort of reference to death. (Chopin’s Sonata in B flat Minor is famous for its funeral march.) JS Bach’s violin Chaconne has long been associated with the death of the composer’s first wife. Unfortunately, Hough chose to open his program with Ferruccio Busoni’s trashy treatment of it. (Better to have availed Brahms’ far more reverential left-hand version.) Liszt, the go-to composer for death, is represented by his Funérailles (from his Poetic and Religious Harmonies) and the diabolical Bagatelle Without Tonality. Busoni returns with his Chamber-Fantasy after Carmen and last on the disc Gounod’s schmaltzy “Ave Maria” derived from the First Prelude in Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. That leaves the pentatonic Korean folk song Arirang in Hough’s own arrangement and Hough’s own original 10-minute Piano Sonata No. 4, Vida Breve, frankly one of the most interesting pieces on the disc. SM

THE MUSICAL HISTORY OF LIFE ON EARTH

A BOOK REVIEW. Spoiler alert: it begins with the note E. Click HERE  

FAREWELL CHRISTA LUDWIG

FABULOUS GERMAN MEZZO died Saturday at 93. Making her debut in 1946, she sang for 30 seasons at the Vienna Opera and was a regular at the Met. Although she was known for giving no ground in arguments with conductors, Leonard Bernstein adored her, as did many others.

FRESH REVIEW

HOWARD BURNHAM In Love with Shakespeare. Click HERE  

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @PerfArtsMtyBay

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor