Weekly Magazine

 

THIS WEEK

SANTA CRUZ SYMPHONY presents regional premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Violin Concerto with soloist Nigel Armstrong. HUNGARIAN PIANIST PÉTER TÓTH plays an ambitious recital concert for Distinguished Artists in Santa Cruz. MONTEREY COUNTY COMPOSERS’ FORUM welcomes guest cellist Doug Machiz to Hidden Valley. YOUTH MUSIC MONTEREY welcomes its new music director Danko Drusko at Sunset Center. For links to these and dozens of other live performance events click on our CALENDAR OR ON THE DISPLAY ADS, LEFT.

NIGEL ARMSTRONG TO PLAY SALONEN CONCERTO

ESA-PEKKA SALONEN, former conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and designated music director of the San Francisco Symphony after Michael Tilson-Thomas is well established as an outstanding composer. Here’s a great opportunity to find out for yourself when the Santa Cruz Symphony performs his violin concerto with soloist Nigel Armstrong (pictured) on Saturday at SC Civic and Sunday at the Mello in Watsonville. The four-movement piece was premiered in 2009 by violinist Leila Josefowicz who collaborated with Salonen as he composed it. It won the 2012 Grawemeyer Prize. Daniel Stewart will also conduct Dvořák’s ‘Brahmsian’ Symphony No. 7 in D Minor.

PIANIST PÉTER TÓTH’S SANTA CRUZ DEBUT

THE AWARD-WINNING Hungarian classical artist has attracted a popular following among piano enthusiasts in Monterey and Carmel where Distinguished Artists director John Orlando first heard him play. Tóth’s CD on Stockfisch Records, Late Piano Works of Liszt, was awarded the Grand Prix International Liszt du Disque award from the Franz Liszt Society in 2006. Tóth’s program in Santa Cruz includes music by Handel, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Liszt, Bartók and Chopin.

MARIN ALSOP TAKES OVER VIENNA RSO

THE AUSTRIAN CAPITOL’S fine Radio Symphony Orchestra embraced the former Cabrillo Festival music director as its new chief conductor last week. How many firsts is that? Alsop, 63, is the first woman chief in Vienna, the first American, the first to open with contemporary works by Lera Auerbach and Christopher Rouse. She performs with them again on October 31 and November 6, in programs heavy with new music. She will also chair the jury for the 2021 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and conduct the final concerto round at Ft Worth.

SHOUTING ‘FIRE’ IN A CROWDED THEATER

A HARROWING history of theater fires across history. Click HERE  

QUEEN OF HALLOWEEN

 

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

THE ALBUM COVER IMAGE is all too familiar. The railroad tracks go to Auschwitz where the voices of Jewish composers were silenced in the gas chambers. Many of them had composed important music at Terezin, the concentration “show” camp in what today is the Czech Republic. The show was a momentary dressing up by the Nazis to convince the International Red Cross that their inmates were being treated humanely. Not only were many fine works of music born at Terezin, but the musicians interned there put on ambitious concerts enjoyed by their fellows and their overlords. The Black Oak Ensemble consists of violin, viola and cello (with two of its members among the Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio.) You have to go back to Beethoven to find a body of work for that small ensemble of strings, which for its wealth of ideas remains largely Viennese entertainment. Here, however, the music is far more intense, often much darker, yet displaying remarkable excellence. Of the six composers represented, five died in 1944 and 1945. The sixth, Hungarian-born Géza Frid, escaped the others’ fate by leaving for Switzerland in the 1920s; he read the handwriting on the wall, and lived to age 85. His Trio for Strings, Op 1, is packed with folk music and resembles the music of Kódaly and Bartók. The composers who died at the hands of the Nazis include the now well known Hans Krása and Gideon Klein, along with Dick Kattenburg, Sándor Kuti and Paul Hermann. The performances match the intensity and power of the music itself. SM     

NOVEL VOICES pairs the rich-toned viola of award-winning Molly Carr in equal measure with Crimean-born pianist Anna Petrova in their debut release, on Melos Records. Formed at the Juilliard School in 2005, the Carr-Petrova Duo (pictured below) has taken a stand for human rights, traveled the world and won awards. Their program honors or acknowledges the struggles for human rights either programmatically or in the personal experiences of the composers. For Khachaturian it’s the haunting lullaby from his ballet Gayane’s eponymous heroine. Mieczysław Weinberg, a Polish Jew whose music is now gaining exposure, is represented by a clarinet sonata, transcribed for viola, that memorializes relatives murdered by the Nazis. A gentle waltz invades the turbulent opening movement; the real heart of the work is the final Adagio. The British-born Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) made her home in America at age 30, probably in part to distance herself from parental abuse. Her Viola Sonata is one of the great works for the instrument. Dating from 1919 it shared top honors with a viola sonata by Ernest Bloch from a field of 72 candidates. The award went to Bloch alone, however, because the male-dominated competition decided that such a powerful work “could not have been” composed by a woman and that her name must have been a pseudonym for a man. The young Mexican composer Fernando Arroyo Lascurain wrote the title work, Novel Voices, which gets its world premiere recording here. “The voices all of the children we met during our trips into refugee camps and their moving life stories,” as the Duo writes, is presented in three movements: Stories and Dreams, Dance of Uncertainty and Call and Prayer. Middle-Eastern themes paint the first in sighing phrases that frames a lively dance; the aggressive second does indeed dart in many directions; the final movement muses on sorrows of the dispossessed. SM   

SMALL MONGOLIAN HOARD CONQUERS THE WORLD

ROCK BAND, The Hu, from the steppes of Central Asia. Click HERE  

HIJO DE LA LUNA

MARIO FRANGULIS in concert

 

FRESH REVIEWS

MEN ON BOATS at Hartnell College. CARRIE, THE MUSICAL at Cabrillo College. Click HERE

NEXT WEEK

MODIGLIANI STRING QUARTET at Sunset Center. BRANFORD MARSALIS QUARTET-two shows at Kuumbwa. EVITA opens at Hartnell College. MOSCOW BALLET NUTCRACKER in Monterey.

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor