CARMEL BACH FESTIVAL 2016
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH seems to be losing status at his namesake Carmel festival. How else to explain his first-time-in-memory omission from the opening night ‘Main’ concert on July 16? The late longtime, deeply-committed patron of the CBF, Big Sur artist Emil Norman, frequently complained: ‘Not enough Bach.’ That gripe applied to music directors Sandor Salgo, Bruno Weil and, were Norman alive today, no doubt to Paul Goodwin.
Except for Sebastian’s Mass in B minor and his popular “Ein feste Burg” church cantata, he is otherwise represented only by two concertos, several shorter choral bits in a hodge-podge sampler of other composers, miscellaneous arrangements and knock-offs, an all-Bach organ recital, a couple of rare chamber cantatas, a trio sonata and three Sunset Center foyer matinees. Out of dozens of concerts and recitals, these are all well and good, but, save the stand-alone Mass, JS Bach seems to have been inserted awkwardly into artificially thematic programs that rob him of his towering authority. The most disturbing result of this blurring of Bach’s stature is how it will impact future audiences that have come to hear a composer without whom all the rest would pale by comparison. But while it seems unconscionable it could also be intentional. The 2016 Bach Festival advertising motto is “Bach Inspires,” but the Festival itself seems to have lost faith in its namesake.
Meanwhile, variety does include good news: Mozart’s opera Idomeneo as a standout, Mendelssohn’s rarely heard “Reformation” Symphony, and some chamber music by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Brahms.
JS BACH, FUGUE IN B-FLAT MINOR
FROM BOOK ONE, Well Tempered Clavier, for ear (by Kimiko Ishizaka) and eye.
THE SOLO VIOLIN PARTITAS AND SONATAS
ONE MIGHT THINK that Bach’s solo violin works would sound the same from one artist to another. In technical terms, they nearly always do. But in expressive terms this is almost never the case. The recorded history of them ranges from perfunctory and superficial—strangely concentrated in former Festival concertmaster Elizabeth Wallfisch—to the elegant romanticism of the brilliant Hungarian Joseph Szigeti.
Welcome, then, a new account by Mark Kaplan, a veteran artist of impeccable credentials as concerto soloist and chamber musician. His recordings with the late David Golub and cellist Colin Carr of the Schubert and Mendelsohn trios have been long acclaimed. More recently he has performed and recorded with pianist Yael Weiss and cellists Peter Stumpf and Clancy Newman. In the Bach solo violin set, Kaplan intensifies the mood—Affekt—of each movement, from deep seriousness to spirited playfulness that includes extra trills and turns. This 2-CD album is a real keeper.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC, FAILED VIOLINIST
A FABULOUS SINGERS’ MASTER CLASS
TWO STAR MEZZOS, Joyce DiDonato and Dame Janet Baker, in conversation.
USING MUSIC AS A WEAPON
ALEX ROSS takes a sharp-edged look. Click HERE
DON’T LIKE GOODBYES
BARBRA STREISAND, from 1963, sings the overlooked Harold Arlen/Truman Capote gem from the otherwise forgotten 1954 Broadway musical “House of Flowers.”
MPC THEATRE stages Lloyd Webber’s Evita, directed by Gary Bolen. SANTA CRUZ SHAKESPEARE’S Midsummer Night’s Dream inaugurates its new Glen at De Laveaga Park in Santa Cruz. For details and links, click our CALENDAR
Scott MacClelland, editor