TAKE ME TO YOUR LIEDER
SONGFEST arrived at Hidden Valley Music Seminars on Monday evening with pianist/scholar Graham Johnson (who has recorded all of Franz Schubert’s songs and Lieder on 37 CDs for Hyperion Records and written a three-volume biography of the only great composer actually born in Vienna), celebrated international opera and Lieder singers Sir Thomas Allen and mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, conductor Stewart Robertson (Johnson is second left above) and a ‘class’ of some 15 selected professional singers and five professional pianists. Monday night they all gathered at the Hidden Valley Theatre for an opening program in this week-long, in-depth study of songs—plus a couple of arias—by the likes of Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Mahler and Strauss. The ‘Winter Intensive’ at Hidden Valley promises to be the first of many to come of Rosemary Ritter’s Los Angeles-based SongFest, itself internationally acclaimed. Given the floor, Johnson spent nearly an hour describing the history of Vienna, during and before Schubert’s short life, and every important development since right up to the Nazi era, and even to its today “sugar-coated” self-satisfaction. I think he said “uh” perhaps four times in his gripping improvisational account. Even the proverbial pin would have suspended itself in air. After a brief pause, the above quartet regaled a rapt audience with Viennese anecdotes of their own, Allen’s “love hate” relationship included. Perhaps the most disturbing observation of this entire dialogue remained the yet-unresolved issue of those Austrians who still hold that they, not the Austrian Jews, were the victims of Hitler. Link to the Hidden Valley ad, left, for all the details coming up this week. And look for more coverage in our posting next week.
ANNUAL 8 TENS @ 8 FESTIVAL RETURNS
PACREP’S “Boogie Wonderland” ends its short run this weekend in Carmel. Click our CALENDAR or, for PacRep, the ad, left.
THE CLOUD PIANO
DAVID BOWEN, studio musician and educator, dreams up a musical algorithm.
KNOWN ONLY for the “aria” used by JS Bach for his “Goldberg” Variations, in fact, Johann Gottlieb Goldberg was a man of exceptional talent and musical creativity, as this new CD demonstrates. Their fifth release to date for Bridge Records, internationally acclaimed Rebel (emphasis on the second syllable) consists of violinists Jörg-Michael Schwarz and Karen Marie Marmer (who also perform as Black Marble), harpsichordist Dongsok Shin (see/hear him play the oldest surviving piano on our Weekly Magazine, Dec 20) and cellist John Moran. They add other musicians depending on the repertoire, in this case violist Risa Browder. Rebel is a hot little Baroque band, full of energy and sizzle. Goldberg (1727-1756) was born into a musical family in Gdansk. He was engaged by the Russian ambassador to Saxony who brought the young man—a teenager—with him to Leipzig. Suffering sleepless nights, he asked Bach, who would become a teacher of Goldberg, for some variations that the young musician could play as a sleep-aid. (Anyone who plays that music would hardly think of it as sleep-inducing.) These enchanting sonatas mix Italian forms with French dances, the latter including a chaconne and a Siciliana. It turns out that Goldberg, who died at 29, was not a one-trick pony.
BACH’S OBESSION WITH GOD
ALEX ROSS examines the unending contradictions between Bach’s music and the words he set. Evidence points to Bach’s identification with the no-less-conflicted Martin Luther, especially with Luther’s murderous incitements against Jews. Ross cites a new book by Michael Marissen, a professor emeritus at Swarthmore College. Click HERE
LONDON PHILHARMONIC PLAYS POKÉMON
SAN JOSE CHAMBER ORCHESTRA AT 25
BARBARA DAY TURNER’S orchestra performs this Sunday, January 8, 7pm, at their regular venue, Le Petit Trianon, 72 N. 5th St., San Jose. Guest artists include the Delphi Trio. Anyone who admires BDT’s work—and that includes me—should grab a copy SJCO’s new anniversary CD, that includes three of their original commissions and premieres: Michael Ching’s Piano Concerto (1996), Craig Bohmler and Marion Adler’s Saints (2002) with soloist mezzo-soprano Layna Chianakas, and Michael Touchi’s Tango Barroco (2001) featuring the late saxophonist William Trimble. (Bill Trimble channeled his hero Stan Getz with a lush, full-bodied tone that one hardly hears anymore—reason enough to collect the CD. I can’t believe that it’s almost seven years since his passing.)
DANCING AWAY FROM PARKINSON’S
BALLETBOYZ RELIEVE SYMPTOMS through remarkable dance therapy that’s setting sufferers free. Click HERE
CAN NEVER SAY GOODBYE TO DEBBIE
FLUTIST NED McGOWAN plays a big program of new music in Pebble Beach with pianist Keiko Shichijo. Click HERE
Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca RC Brooks, associate editor