SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS presents “From the Old World to the New.” ALESSIO BAX-LUCILLE CHUNG piano duo play Friday in Santa Cruz. PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE in Carmel to launch Music Director Nic McGegan’s farewell season. SPOTLIGHT ON THE SYMPHONY presents Santa Cruz Symphony wind players at Cabrillo College. 8 TENS @ 8 short play series begins at Center Stage in Santa Cruz. LAYALI MOROCCO: Jewish Songlines & Soundscapes (pictured above) at Kuumbwa, in conjunction with UC Santa Cruz Humanities Division. FOR LINKS to these and other live performance events click on our CALENDAR or on the display ads, left.
ALESSIO BAX-LUCILLE CHUNG PIANO DUO
WHETHER YOU TRUST IT OR NOT, the term ‘Power Couple’ turns heads in the Classical Music world—think Wu Han and David Finckel—no less than music competitions. Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung—husband and wife—have each earned their individual stripes. Bax catapulted to prominence with First Prize wins at both the Leeds and Hamamatsu International Piano Competitions, and is now a familiar face on five continents, not only as a recitalist and chamber musician, but also as a concerto soloist who has appeared with more than 100 orchestras, including the London, Royal, and St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestras, the Boston, Dallas, Sydney, and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestras, and the NHK Symphony in Japan, collaborating with such eminent conductors as Marin Alsop, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Simon Rattle, Yuri Temirkanov, and Jaap van Zweden. Born in Montréal, pianist Lucille Chung made her debut at the age of ten with the Montréal Symphony Orchestra and Charles Dutoit who subsequently invited her to be a featured soloist during the MSO Asian Tour in 1989. Since then, she has performed an extensive concerto repertoire with over 60 leading orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Moscow Virtuosi, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Staatskapelle Weimar and many others. For Distinguished Artists their program will include the great Fantasy in F Minor by Schubert, Stravinsky’s ballet Petrushka, Debussy’s Petite Suite and charmers by Astor Piazzolla.
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THE CASE FOR AFTERNOON CONCERTS
LONG-SUSTAINING CLASSICAL MUSIC LOVERS hate to drive at night. Could advancing age explain it? Or maybe it’s the time of year—shorter days and longer nights. (I personally know seniors who have prematurely quit attending altogether because matinees by their favorites are no longer.) Yet some presenters still schedule nighttime concerts, like Chamber Music Monterey Bay. (CMMB, Paper Wing Theatre and Mountain Community Theater, have steadfastly stuck to their historic 8pm curtain times; most of the rest, including the majority of theater companies, have moved their evening start times back to 7:30pm, yet many of them offer Sunday matinees.) The Monterey Symphony and Santa Cruz Symphony—the latter recently moved to 7:30 on Saturdays—perform both evenings and Sunday matinee performances. Luckily for all concerned the Carmel Music Society only hosts its guest artists on Sunday afternoons. With many older audiences in the Monterey Bay region not being replaced in numbers among subsequent generations, shouldn’t this be at least worthy of some presenters’ internal planning? Or is the only good excuse for not choosing a Sunday matinee a beautiful afternoon outdoors? SM
PUBLIC DOMAIN DAY
JANUARY 1, 2020, saw the release from copyright into the public domain of dozens of works of art published in 1924. Among them: Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the first film adaptation of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, EM Forster’s A Passage to India, WEB Du Bois’ The Gift of Black Folk, Jelly Roll Morton’s King Porter Stomp and Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. For these and many more, click HERE
THE GIMLET EYE
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JIMMIE RODGERS: FROM COUNTRY MUSIC LEGEND TO KIPSIGIS DEITY
THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH
MEET KEYBOARD ARTIST KEIKO SHICHIJO
THE JAPANESE ARTIST, now living in Amsterdam, a master of modern piano and the classical-era fortepiano, recently performed a solo recital of mostly rare music for the Aptos Keyboard Series. These two new CD releases reveal aspects of her range of styles and interests. They, like her solo performance in Aptos, also spotlight her laser-focus and artistic intensity.
THE ETCETERA CD, “Beethoven 1802,” for fortepiano, proves to be a smart ‘concept’ album; all the music, and the fortepiano itself, date from 1802, when the composer began making his move as the force of nature that shocked the evolution of Classical-era music onto a new direction, a game-changer that would spawn radical progeny for a century. The instrument was built in 1802, in Vienna, by Frère et Soeur (brother and sister) Stein, thence restored by Sietse Kok in 2011. The program includes the groundbreaking “Tempest” Sonata, the ‘quasi fantasia’ “Moonlight” Sonata and the so-called “Eroica” Variations based on an earlier contradance and only named for the “Eroica” symphony in hindsight. A particular challenge for Shichijo in 2016 was learning to manage the lack of a ‘back check,’ a kind of shock absorber that returns the hammer to striking position in a split second. Nevertheless, she worked it out and delivers here a splendid document from a time when neither Beethoven nor his fortepiano were capable of delivering the thunder of his imagination that he could imagine but would never hear.
TOM JOHNSON, born 1939, studied with American-original Morton Feldman in New York in the 1960s. (Johnson had heard some of the early minimalist music associated with Philip Glass and Steve Reich and, being of that generation, believed he could do at least as well.) But with Feldman, in hindsight certainly a godfather of minimalism, Johnson was still finding his way. Feldman suggested that his protégé develop a series of fresh chords. The result, with Feldman’s nod, is Spaces, composed in 1969, a 15-minute ‘discovery’ of sonorities and overtones built from seven chords. As Shichijo makes clear, this is concentrated stuff that requires deeply penetrating subtlety. Yet between the chords, played loud and soft, and notes extracted from them individually, it becomes clear that Johnson, like his mentor, gives forth an original voice. An hour for piano, 1971, draws on the lessons of Spaces that challenges the listener’s concentration, notwithstanding the work’s true variety of impulses and digressions, even though Shichijo’s reading comes in at a bit under 55 minutes. But here, the operative words are ‘minimalism’ and ‘laser-like.’ In other words, the artist makes a riveting case for this music. And in the minimalist spirit, the album cover could not be more austere and the composer makes a point of using no capital letters here in his program notes for the edition wandelweiser records 2018 release. SM
IF YOU MISSED CNN’s telecast of this outstanding documentary, on New Year’s Day with repeats later last week, you can acquire a DVD of it from various sources.
She put Don Henley & Glenn Frey’s Desperado on the map.
TANDY BEAL & CO presents “Scoville Units” at Cabrillo Crocker Theater. GUITARIST ERIC JOHNSON in Carmel. SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK at the Rio. COMEDY VARIETY SHOWCASE at the Cherry in Carmel.
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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor