DA’s Schubertiade

By Scott MacClelland

I WAS WRONG about Schubert’s “Wanderer” Fantasy in my review of Kevin Lee Sun in January. On Saturday night in Santa Cruz, Alon Goldstein made a compelling argument in favor of the piece, which put to right its coherency of form, something Sun was unable to convincingly do in his prize-winning recital for the Carmel Music Society.

Goldstein was joined by Distinguished Artists founder, pianist John Orlando, clarinetist James Pytko and mezzo-soprano Solmaaz Adeli (right) in what was billed a Schubertiade, by tradition an intimate evening when Franz Schubert and his friends would gather to make music in Vienna in the 1820s. The irony here is that the “Wanderer,” with themes based on Schubert’s earlier song, is anything but intimate, rather a big, muscular tour de force.

The piece unbalanced the program, replacing two of the composer’s less ambitious piano impromptus listed in the handout. That imbalance might have been rectified if Pytko and Adeli teamed with Goldstein in Schubert’s great Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (The Shepherd on the Rock,) a 12-minute masterpiece, rarely heard, that would have provided all three with a special showcase. The resources were at hand.

Instead, Pytko stuck with Robert Schumann’s Fantasy Pieces, Op 73, a set of charmers that certainly complemented the idea of the program. Orlando joined Goldstein to open the show at Peace United Church with Schubert’s Rondo in A, D951, composed in his last year, 1828, and another programming rarity. Orlando played the brilliant treble over Goldstein’s solid foundation.

After a 30-minute intermission, Adeli sang half a dozen Schubert songs—including the popular “Death and the Maiden” and “An die Musik”—while Goldstein surrounded them with Schumann’s Kinderszenen (Scenes of Childhood). The juxtaposition was a little odd, but the effect was a success, and won an enthusiastic audience response. Adeli is a lovely singer with a most alluring tone. She could make a stronger impression by finding greater depths of expression where it is called for, as, for example, in “An die Musik.”

Distinguished Artists 2019-20 will host, among others, pianists Oxana Yablonskaya (last heard regionally with the Monterey Symphony nearly two decades ago) and Antonio Iturrioz. Gabriele Baldocci is scheduled to play a solo piano reduction of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.