Weekly Magazine

NEW THIS WEEK

CRISTIAN MAČELARU & pianist Simon Trpčeski with the National Orchestra of France in a live online concert from Paris, Thursday, 11am. JAZZ FLUTE KENNY STAHL performs Thursday evening from St Ignatius Parish in San Francisco. “SAME AS IT EVER WAS” set of three plays in one, Friday & Saturday. DIVINE QUANTUM ELDERS’ Consciousness Vaccine Friday from UC Santa Cruz. COMPOSERS IN CONVERSATION from Cabrillo Festival: Wynton Marsalis and Tan Dun join Cristian Mačelaru online, Saturday at 11am. RAY OBIEDO QUINTET from Kuumbwa Jazz on Monday. FOR DETAILS AND LINKS, CLICK HERE

NEW JAZZ FESTIVAL FROM SAN JOSE

SAN JOSE JAZZ inaugural edition, New Works Festival, four nights of streamed concerts by 12 artists, April 30 through May 8, from their popup venue, the Break Room. Click HERE   

MUSIC@MENLO ANNOUNCES FOR 2021

JULY 16-AUGUST 1, performing in Menlo School’s new Spieker Center for the Arts, live and online. Guest artists pictured. To read the season brochure, “Gather,” click HERE    

TIM RAYBORN’S ‘VOICES OF THE ANCIENTS’

MUSICIAN/STORYTELLER took the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival back to the first millennium AD for an extravagant tour of cultures much older than most lovers of early music dare to go. For nearly ninety minutes Rayborn played lyres, drums, percussive rattles and flutes of wood and bone. Some of his stories were so embedded in their original languages as to be virtually incomprehensible, but delivered with such force of personality as to easily convey the urgency of their message. He sang some of his stories and also quoted from Odin in English translated from old Norse. Festival founder Linda Burman-Hall, insatiably curious as ever, peppered Rayborn with questions during the Q&A interviews. While this was the final concert of the current season, the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival has several post-season events yet to go. SM

RACHMANINOFF’S MONSTER CADENZA

FROM the Third Piano Concerto, as ‘rendered’ by ten great virtuosos.

BALLET RACISM IN BERLIN PUNISHED

CHLOÉ LOPES GOMEZ filed a racism complaint last year. She said that a ballet teacher had told her to apply white powder for Swan Lake, said that she had been hired only because she was black, and told a colleague that “she thought it had been a mistake to hire me because a black woman spoils the aesthetics.” She now has a new contract. Click HERE 

HOW JAZZ MUSICIANS REMEMBER CHICK COREA

NOT EVERYONE WAS A FAN yet he remains impossible to ignore. Click HERE   

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

SPARKS VOL II consists of eight short works—five to nine minutes in duration—for string players from the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra by eight composers not previously known to me. And it selfishly stays that way. While Navona Records provides program notes, all but one written by its composer, it remains no more than a guess that each is likely American and that all were likely composed since 2000. (Even an independent search soon turns into a snipe hunt.) The composers, in order of their appearance, are Dave Dexter, William C White, Simon Andrews, Rain Worthington, Allen Brings, John A Carollo, John Franek and Jeff Mangels. (Guess which one is female.) Some pieces dance, others are darkly moody while still others express deep, personal feelings. Dexter’s Hiraeth—a Welsh word for homesickness—catches the nostalgic yearning heard in Vaughan Williams’ Thomas Tallis Fantasia. Franek’s Torso, featuring four solo violins, speaks to his ‘Anxiety disorder.’ Bottom line, however, is that each of these pieces is eminently listenable and well performed; each leaves its own allure to come listen again. Sharing conducting duties are Stanislav Vavřínek and Jiří Petrdlik. SM   

DEATH HAS LONG BEEN a central subject of the arts, resulting in “the most exalted and inexhaustible expression,” as the pianist Stephen Hough writes in the liner notes to “Vida Breve” CD. Hough’s bona fides have long since stood the test of time. (He’s one of the ten playing the solo cadenza from Rachminoff’s Third Concerto, referenced above.) Most of the pieces on this new Hyperion release make some sort of reference to death. (Chopin’s Sonata in B flat Minor is famous for its funeral march.) JS Bach’s violin Chaconne has long been associated with the death of the composer’s first wife. Unfortunately, Hough chose to open his program with Ferruccio Busoni’s trashy treatment of it. (Better to have availed Brahms’ far more reverential left-hand version.) Liszt, the go-to composer for death, is represented by his Funérailles (from his Poetic and Religious Harmonies) and the diabolical Bagatelle Without Tonality. Busoni returns with his Chamber-Fantasy after Carmen and last on the disc Gounod’s schmaltzy “Ave Maria” derived from the First Prelude in Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. That leaves the pentatonic Korean folk song Arirang in Hough’s own arrangement and Hough’s own original 10-minute Piano Sonata No. 4, Vida Breve, frankly one of the most interesting pieces on the disc. SM

THE MUSICAL HISTORY OF LIFE ON EARTH

A BOOK REVIEW. Spoiler alert: it begins with the note E. Click HERE  

FAREWELL CHRISTA LUDWIG

FABULOUS GERMAN MEZZO died Saturday at 93. Making her debut in 1946, she sang for 30 seasons at the Vienna Opera and was a regular at the Met. Although she was known for giving no ground in arguments with conductors, Leonard Bernstein adored her, as did many others.

FRESH REVIEW

HOWARD BURNHAM In Love with Shakespeare. Click HERE  

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor