Weekly Magazine

NEW THIS WEEK

“THE BRITISH INVASION” tribute concert sponsored by PacRep at the Monterey Fairgrounds, Wednesday, 6:30 & 9pm. PORCH QUARTET at St Ignatius Parish performs Joseph Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ on Thursday. SANTA CRUZ BAROQUE hosts violinists Edwin Huizinga and Grijda Spiri in works of JS Bach and JM Leclair on Saturday. HOWARD BURNHAM will recount the accomplishments of Sir Henry Irving in First Knight on Saturday. OUR CONCERTS LIVE hosts Rachel Barton Pine playing Mozart in her concerto series starting Sunday at 1pm. CAROLYN SILLS COMBO Western swing from Kuumbwa on Monday. FOR DETAILS AND LINKS, CLICK HERE

 

MONTEREY COUNTY COMPOSERS FORUM

MEMBER COMPOSERS honor one of their own, George Peterson, who died as the result of injuries sustained in a car crash. This concert was posted to FaceBook on March 7, 2021. Click HERE

 

MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL ONLINE 

EVOLUTION OF A GROOVE series of commissions quietly added to their website in late February. Click HERE 

 

PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE’S NEW COMPOSER-IN-RESIDENCE

TARIK O’REGAN IS ALIVE and not a Baroque composer. Click HERE  

 

CARMEL ASKS FOR FOREST THEATER INPUT

CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA’s Sunset Center is seeking to withdraw from its management agreement with the city’s outdoor Forest Theater. The city invites residents to respond to a just-published user’s survey. Click HERE 

 

WIGMORE HALL LIVESTREAM SERIES

FROM LONDON’S premiere venue for recitals and chamber music; lineup for Spring 2021. Click HERE

 

BALLET TO SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT

RUSSIAN BALLERINA dances Swan Lake on ice to protest the construction of a port in Batareinaya Bay, a popular beach about 100 km west of St Petersburg. Click HERE  

 

MEN EN POINTE

IN A TIME when barriers are coming down, why not? Click HERE  

 

LA OPERA TO STREAM NEW MAZZOLI OPERA

MISSY MAZZOLI’S BREAKING THE WAVES will stream free from March 19 until April 12. Cast includes Soprano Kiera Duffy and John Moore. Steven Osgood conducts.

 

PENDERECKI UNBURIED

A YEAR AFTER HIS DEATH the great Polish composer has yet to be interred or publicly memorialized because of COVID-19 restrictions. Click HERE   

 

MEET THE ITALIAN LIRONE

 

HUANG RUO PREMIERE

CABRILLO FEST composer’s new A Dust in Time, a solo passacaglia, played by Jennifer Koh. “A Dust in Time is written for the people affected by the pandemic, giving them a piece of music to reflect, to express, to mourn, to bury, to heal, to find internal peace, strength, and hope. This solo-violin version of A Dust in Time is created as part of the WPA Virtual Commissions. The piece is about 30-minutes in duration, unfolding a process and journey from darkness to light, from frozenness and motionlessness to full of life and energy.” Huang Ruo March 1, 2021

 

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

PIVOTAL ARC is one of the most astonishing new albums I have heard in years. It’s a program of three works by a Canadian-born saxophonist now working in New York, Quinsin Nachoff, in collaboration with Canadian-born violinist now working in Los Angeles, Nathalie Bonin. The two have been colleagues since the turn of the century. The major fruits of their labors take the form of a huge—46-minute, three movement—concerto for violin and jazz orchestra of dazzling virtuosity across the board. Nachoff’s writing for the band goes from strength to strength while Bonin shows there is nothing she can’t do no matter how technically demanding. (Nachoff calls her “super-intense.”) The three movements follow the classical model, with energized outer movements sandwiching a more circumspect “jazz ballad” where a lengthy solo cadenza for the violin elides into the finale. But unlike 20th century violin concertos, Nachoff turns the first and third movements into richly inventive worlds all their own, even while underpinned with ideas introduced at the start. This mastery of formal clarity gives them an organic wholeness that moves the focus in and out, from wide-range to close-up and back. The first movement draws its strength from Nachoff’s “deconstructed, transfigured tango,” while the 19-minute finale—the longest of the three movements—finds adventure in the complex rhythms of Balkan music. In both first and last, there are quiet, lyrical moments that break up the driving propulsions and give opportunities for the band members to shine on their own terms. There have been sincere attempts to synthesize jazz and classical music since, notably, Gunther Schuller’s “third stream” experiments of the late 1950s. (One of the most successful such works—a real tour de force—is David Amram’s Triple Concerto of 1970.) We’re easily back at the level of technical and artistic wizardry in Nachoff’s concerto, for which he gives credit to some of the giants of bebop.

At 17 minutes, Nachoff’s String Quartet, commissioned and performed here by the Molinari String Quartet, betrays no particular jazz influence, but instead a fully-formed classical piece made by as sure a hand as the concerto, and not least for its bracing display of every slick string trick from past history and modern practices too. The Whirlwind disc finishes up with the title piece, a kind of tone poem that flatters the musicians, bass and drums especially, but without the intensely high level of ambition as the concerto and the string quartet, allowing the listener the pleasure of hearing the musicians in a more relaxed context. Meanwhile, don’t wait to collect this breakthrough gem. SM  

PERHAPS IN ANTICIPATION of the 110th anniversary of Gustav Mahler’s death on May 18, this elegant collection, by the high, clear soprano Christiane Karg—her debut for Harmonia Mundi—draws on folk songs and love songs from early in the Austrian composer’s career: Des Knaben Wunderhorn and Lieder und Gesänge. It also includes the celebrated Rückert-Lieder that contains such haunting settings as Um Mitternacht and Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen. Karg partners with the sought-after lieder pianist Malcolm Martineau, except for the last two tracks in which Karg sings with the Welte-Mignon piano roll recordings made by Mahler himself, including Das himmlische Leben, well known from the Fourth Symphony. (That technology requires an 88-key, three-pedal ‘vorsetzer’ to play a piano afresh for each playback.) While I understand that a singer with ambitions to pursue a major career must work for years to perfect his or her technique, that is just the jumping off point. To become an artist that technique must serve a higher calling. Karg is not there yet. Within technique, for singing and many instruments as well, is the element of vibrato, where and when to use it, and how much. In this recital, Karg’s vibrato runs mostly on autopilot. The more famous the song—refer to the above named Rückert songs—the more obvious when sameness of vibrato calls attention to itself and away from the expressive character implicit in the words. SM 

 

THE WORLD’S MOST POPULAR CLASSICAL MUSICIAN?

SO SAYS A uDISCOVER CLASSICAL 100 POLL. David Garrett and his clones are Happy

 

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @PerfArtsMtyBay

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor