Weekly Magazine

THIS WEEK

SANTA CRUZ SYMPHONY (above) to perform Mahler’s spectacular Fifth Symphony. CHAMPIONS OF THE ARTS formal banquet hosted by Arts Council for Monterey County at Portola Hotel in Monterey. TANDY BEAL & CO welcome clown duo Coventry & Kaluza in Santa Cruz. SANTA CRUZ BAROQUE FESTIVAL opens 2020 season with Vajra Voices. HORSZOWSKI TRIO in Carmel. BIG SUR FIDDLE CAMP benefit at Hidden Valley. GUITARIST WILLIAM COULTER at UCSC. CHUNKS rock opera/installation at The Lab at Carmel’s Barnyard Shopping Center. FOR LINKS to these and other live performance events click on our CALENDAR or on the display ads, left.

SC SYMPHONY TO PLAY MAHLER ‘FIVE’

CONDUCTOR DANIEL STEWART continues his survey of Mahler symphonies with No 5, a sprawling 75-minute work, in five movements, that is so rich with melodies and themes that a concertgoer will have a hard time choosing which to hum on the way home. Symphony program annotator Don Adkins explains that the piece falls into three parts; the first two and last two movements are grouped and surround the middle scherzo movement. The famous four-note opening, on solo trumpet, that made its first appearance in the composer’s Fourth Symphony, launches a mighty funeral march that stretches across the entire compass of the orchestra and the widest possible dynamic range. The stormy second movement matches the first in size, and recaptures the funeral march along with cackling woodwinds, then slows to a nearly full stop before the cellos whisper a desolate melody until the march resumes. The Fifth Symphony demarks a fresh direction from the previous four, enriching the texture with a new Bach-inspired polyphony. As with so many of Mahler’s works, quotes from his previously composed music pop up frequently, now incorporated into the overall contrapuntal fabric. The scherzo should be “strong but not too fast.” In the third part, the adagietto, a love song to Mahler’s then-new wife Alma, calls for strings and harp only, while the final movement subscribes to the old rondo form most commonly associated with the final movements of classical concertos. As heard especially in the second and third movements, it is shot through with vivid counterpoint. SM    

OREGON BACH FEST NAMES CANDIDATES

TROUBLED FESTIVAL hopes to find terms with one of three: Julian Wachner (early music specialist), Miguel Harth-Bedoya (Grammy-winner and one-time Monterey Symphony conductor candidate) and Craig Hella Johnson (founder of Conspirare and composer of Considering Matthew Shepard). Click HERE

BIG BUCKS BEHIND FORENSIC MUSICOLOGY

ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER stole a tune from Puccini’s La fanciulla del West for his Phantom of the Opera and had to pony up to settle a lawsuit. Andy Hermann writes for Rolling Stone. Click HERE

DADAISM

ART MOVEMENT spawned by World War I, which plunged the next generation into questioning the very meaning of life itself. Symphonie Diagonale among them. Click HERE  

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

POUL RUDERS’ “Paganini Variations” Piano Concerto, invokes the same capriccio on which most of the many 19th and 20th century Paganini knock-offs invoke, most famously Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. In fact, Ruders happily paraphrases and/or quotes some of Rachmaninoff’s tropes. The Piano Concerto No 3, as a single set of variations, lasts about 18 minutes and sprinkles in jazzy bits, à la Prokofiev, including sneaky syncopations as well as moments of deep quietude. Ruders reworked his original guitar concerto version, as suggested by guitarist David Starobin. Soloist in this case is Anne-Marie McDermott, one of our faves, with the Odensesymfoniorkester and conductor Benjamin Shwartz. The earlier (1986) Cembal d’Amore, Second Book, pits harpsichord against piano in a French-style suite of eight short dance movements, played by Quattro Mani, with Steven Beck on harpsichord and pianist Susan Grace. This music demands—and gets—a lot of virtuosity, much at high velocity. While rarely scored for these two instruments, the effect glitters, except for Air, in which the harpsichord uses the intimate lute stop. Kafkapriccio is a brilliant concert suite for orchestra that “paraphrases” five scenes from Ruders’ opera, The Trial, based on the Kafka novel. I don’t know the opera but 22 minutes of portraits (Kafka, Felice, Leni, Josef) plus The Execution achieve a highly entertaining summation in a spectacular realization by the Odensesymfoniorkester conducted by Andreas Delfs. SM

MEXICO CITY’S STREET MUSIC; AVANT-GARDE

JAZZ WRITER Howard Mandel’s Urban Improvisation. Click HERE  

HOW ZARZUELA SAVED SPAIN FROM FRANCO

CONTEMPORARY SPANISH GENRES like flamenco and zarzuela still carry the weight of associations with Franco’s fascist regime. Click HERE

“I WANNA BE A COWGAL IN THE MOVIES”

ORN HUNGTINGTON mimes at his 90th birthday party, in Tucson, 2009

 

FRESH REVIEW

THE OTHER PLACE at Jewel Theatre in Santa Cruz Art Center. Click HERE

NEXT WEEK

GENEVIEVE KROMM TRUMPET RECITAL at UCSC. POSTMODERN JUKEBOX at the Rio. NIGHT OF LIVING COMPOSERS in Aptos.

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor