YOU CAN HEAR CHANTICLEER (above), in two performances, at Carmel Mission. Also tonight, the Monterey Symphony Chamber Players (see below.) Plus plenty more holiday concerts, of varying styles, in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, including dance. The Monthly Jazz Jam at Embassy Suites in Seaside has been moved up from its usual last-Sunday to this Sunday, Dec. 18, in deference to the busy holiday season; guitarist Mike Lent and bassist Pete Lips are featured guest artists and Lee Durley hosts. See you there. More details and links on our CALENDAR
MS CHAMBER PLAYERS ‘POTPOURRI’
MONTEREY SYMPHONY pre-concert-lecturer Todd Samra launched the second half of the MS Chamber Players concert at All Saints Episcopal Church in Carmel on Thursday explaining that three American Christmas songs would be played by a string quartet in the style of Mozart. I must have missed it; there was nothing about “White Christmas,” “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” or “Let it Snow” that vaguely resembled anything by Mozart. But you can judge for yourself tonight when those arrangements are played in a repeat performance—somewhat abbreviated—at Folktale Winery on Carmel Valley Road. What did sound like Mozart was a string-quartet reduction of the well-known “Christmas” concerto grosso by Arcangelo Corelli, the Italian violinist who perfected the form and, thereby, the definitive sound of Baroque music at the start of the 18th century. (Turning it into a classical string quartet denied the very qualities of concerto grosso Corelli intended, though it did begin an enchanting evening of seasonal spirit.)
This was the latest in the series of MS Chamber Players concerts over the last couple of years by several of the Symphony’s first desk players, led by concertmaster Christina Mok. The program continued with a trio sonata by Jean-Marie Leclair whose French sound stood in distinctly different character from the Italian Corelli. Then Vladimir Khalikulov (pictured above) played the short, odd Capriccio for viola by Henri Vieuxtemps, a 19th century Belgian violinist. Tangos by Piazzolla for violin and double bass (Bruce Moyer) were a crowd-pleaser, as were Jacques Ibert’s Deux interludes for violin, flute (Dawn Walker) and harpsichord (Michael Peterson) which replaced the piano to greatly-improved effect. The program ended with JS Bach’s Brandenburg No. 5, a tour de force for flute, violin and full ensemble—including that notoriously over-the-top harpsichord solo in the first movement. (In tonight’s reprise, that piece is replaced by Mozart’s popular, early Divertimento in D, K136.)
PLAYING A 420-YEAR-OLD BASS
GASPARO DA SALO built it in 1590, a century before Stradivari hit his stride. See and hear it played by Owen Lee, principal bass of the Cincinnati Symphony. It’s for sale—the bass, not the Symphony.
PIANIST HORACIO GUTIÉRREZ UPDATE
CUBA-BORN artist, who has performed in Monterey several times, recorded this program for Bridge last year in New York, using a Steinway D. Personally, I like to take a long holiday from this repertoire since a fresh hearing always adds a new discovery to the tried-and-true. In fact, the Chopin homage to JS Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, the Preludes Op 28, and the Schumann Fantasie in C—his greatest keyboard sonata—stand as pillars of Romantic 19th Century piano literature. Occasionally one will hear the complete Preludes in recital, but more often only selections or encores chosen from among the most popular. But to listen deeply is to recognize the peculiar technical challenges Chopin throws at his would-be executors. I am happy to report that Gutiérrez has lost neither his glitter and sparkle, nor his technical mastery and great interpretative skills. Moreover, there is nothing stuffy about his lively art. The Schuman remains one of the great musical love letters of its time, not least for the sweep of its utterance, implying an elasticity of pace. Schumann’s piano music is famous for its strings of pearls, his lengthy works consisting of miniatures—Kinderszenen, Davidsbündlertänze, Kreisleriana—but not here. The composer, forcibly separated from his beloved bride-to-be Clara, was clearly caught up in the grandeur of Beethoven. He originally gave the three movements titles: Ruins, Triumphal Arch, Constellation. In the first, Gutiérrez gets himself caught by Schumann the miniaturist, where the long lines sputter into bits and pieces, like ruins actually. But he recovers himself in the second and final movements, though the finale tends toward more bracing ardor than it is often played; many pianists imbue it with quietly circumspect humility. Gutiérrez makes an unequivocally strong argument on behalf of Schumann, perhaps the most vulnerably honest composer of his generation.
SANTA CRUZ SYMPHONY’S EDUCATION PROGRAM
A NEW VIDEO presentation.
2016 KENNEDY CENTER AWARDS
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, President Barak Obama introduces Mavis Staples, James Taylor, Al Pacino, Martha Argerich, and Eagles Don Henley, Tim Schmit and Joe Walsh, some of the outstanding musicians and artists of our time.
JOSHUA WEILERSTEIN to give his fee as guest conductor of the North Carolina Symphony in protest to that state’s anti-LGBT bill HB2. Citing the need for inclusion, he said in a statement, “I would like to announce that I will be donating my performance fee for my October performances in Raleigh to Equality NC, one of the most effective LGBT rights organizations in North Carolina.” He is the son of Cleveland Quartet founder Donald Weilerstein and pianist Vivian Hornik Weilerstein and the brother of cellist Alisa Weilerstein.
IT NEVER OCCURRED TO ME
THE FOUR FRESHMEN in 1955. Initially formed during the Depression in rural Indiana, brothers Don and Ross Barbour, cousin Bob Flanigan and another ‘freshman’ in music theory class in 1947, Hal Kratzsch, became a hit vocal band with many singles (45s) and albums. They all played instruments. Song was written by the team Persons-Oken-Coleman.
LOUIS LEBHERZ surprised by the Camerata Singers. Click HERE
Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca RC Brooks, associate editor