Weekly Magazine

THIS WEEK

ORGAN RECITAL at St Dunstan’s Episcopal in Carmel Valley. ANNUAL 8 TENS @ 8 theater festival returns to Center Stage in Santa Cruz. PACIFIC MAMBO ORCHESTRA and Jon Faddis at Kuumbwa. For links to these and dozens of other live performance events, click our CALENDAR

TO BE OR NOT TO BE: TENOR OR BARITONE

NEIL YOUNG, the “Martian” tenor, and a tussle with the Great American Songbook. James Marcus wants to know. Click HERE   

FAMED CHARANGO VIRTUOSO DIES

JAIME TORRES died in Buenos Aires on Christmas Eve, age 80. The son of Bolivian immigrants to Argentina, he was an authority on the lute-like instrument and performed on the celebrated 1964 recording of Ariel Ramirez’ folkloric Misa Criolla recording.

 

EHNES, KERNIS, HOWARD & MĂCELARU

VIOLINIST JAMES EHNES performs the world premiere recordings of fabulous new concertos by Aaron Jay Kernis and James Newton Howard, plus Stream of Limelight for violin and piano by Bramwell Tovey. Howard is best known for his dozens of film and television scores. His concerto, with the Detroit Symphony conducted by the Cabrillo Festival’s Cristian Măcelaru during a live performance, wisely follows classical formal procedures and sticks to familiar tonality. It gives a whisper to Gershwin and nods to John Corigliano (The Red Violin) and Samuel Barber’s violin concerto both for its lyricism and bravura final movement, and pairs the solo with concertante cameos in the orchestra. It supplies the first and last movements with solo cadenzas, each about halfway through, that give Ehnes plenty of room to flex his virtuosity and fearlessness. (Composer and soloist talk about it HERE) The concerto was commissioned by the Pacific Symphony (Costa Mesa and Irvine) and its conductor Carl St Clair. The tender slow movement, with its child-like main theme, is dedicated to St Clair’s son who accidentally died as a toddler. (Here’s a track from Howard’s film score for the Angelina Jolie action-movie SALT, played by a 150-piece orchestra.)

FOR THE KERNIS, also recorded live, Ludovic Morlot conducts the Seattle Symphony. Kernis, a several-time composer-in-residence at Cabrillo, is a serious, deep-feeling artist, and the first two movements of this concerto—again, classical and essentially tonal—expand on that character. It features a big solo cadenza in the first movement;  the second opens like an enveloping dreamscape, doesn’t stay that way for long but ultimately finds its way back, now with tinkling piano. Then, surprise, the finale is a bouncing hoot, part homage to Olivier Messiaen, including a toy train horn, that the composer describes as “fast, zippy, and hair-raisingly difficult.” Tovey’s Stream of Limelight is a virtuosic nine-minute sonata in which Ehnes is partnered with pianist Andrew Armstrong. It moves from theatrical limelight into dim shadows and back into the harsh glare. Ehnes is the dedicatee. SM

MORE MĂCELARU

WATCH HIM conduct the Bavarian Radio Symphony in Stravinsky’s complete Rite of Spring in full-screen high definition video and audio. Click HERE   

DIVAS

MONETOCHKA—real name Elizaveta Gyrdymova—is a Russian teenager with the “voice of a generation.” Click HERE  

ANNA NETREBKO (pictured) stars in a new production of Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur at the Metropolitan Opera. And MAGGIE ROGERS (A* is born). Click HERE  

ZERE ASYLBEK is spinning mainly-Muslim conservative Kyrgyzstan like a nonstop gyroscope. Click HERE   

SANTA CRUZ SHAKESPEARE 2019

MIKE RYAN spells it out.

 

ADAM LAMBERT TOTALLY IN THE ZONE

HONORING CHER at the Kennedy Center Honors

 

NEXT WEEK

PIANIST JON NAKAMATSU and clarinetist JON MANASSE, award-winning American artists with international careers and a growing discography, perform for Distinguished Artists series in Santa Cruz. Together they are artistic directors of the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival. PIANIST KEVIN LEE SUN performs for the Carmel Music Society. PARAPHRASE opens Let Me Entertain You at Paper Wing in Monterey. BRANFORD MARSALIS in Carmel.  

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor