Thursday, April 23, 1998
If opening the door on 20th-century music in Carmel continues, we might just catch up with it before the century''s gone. Sponsored by the Chamber Music Society, the Da Capo Players last weekend disrobed such frights as Bohuslav Martinu''s Flute Trio (of 1944) and Joan Tower''s Amazon 1 (of 1977) and applied chilled water to several consequently enflamed wrists with some Mozart, Bach, and Brahms.
Ironically, the Martinu and Tower made the most vivid impressions, the first for its smooth elegance, the second for its vivacious color spectrum. What makes it hard to recognize Martinu''s style fingerprints is the composer''s chameleon-like ability to imitate his contemporaries, from the opulence of Respighi to the stringency of Stravinsky. Here was chamber music as transparent as Ravel''s, and like Ravel, refined and delicious without being emotionally self-indulgent.
American composer Joan Tower, who grew up in Brazil, founded Da Capo Players and played piano with them for 15 years. Amazon 1, composed two decades ago for Da Capo, employs all five instruments (violin, cello, flute, oboe and piano). The work is as much about tone color as anything else, and, like its namesake river, spills from one idea to the next. Using the full Da Capo complement assured an iridescence not shared by the other works. When tuxedoed cellist Andre Emelianoff blew a string and left the stage to replace it, one was struck by the realization that the other four players, dressed more casually, were all women, and younger.
Brahms'' late Clarinet Trio in A Minor completed the evening, complementing the opening Martinu, adding greater heft and deeper expression. While the piece falls short of the substance Brahms poured into the contemporary Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, and therefore gets much less exposure, it discloses different facets of the composer''s personality and exudes an integrity all its own. Slipped in among the large-scale works were tasty arrangements of Mozart''s Adagio and Allegro, K594, composed originally for music box, and an organ trio sonata by JS Bach.
The Da Capo musicians presented a Hausmusik style, savoring the literature without affectation or virtuosity for its own sake. This made for a comfortable, satisfying recital that, despite the unfamiliar, fell graciously on the ear.
Layna Chianakas, winner of last year''s Carmel Music Society vocal competition, returned to Carmel for her winner''s recital last week. This poised, professional artist, put everyone at ease with her graceful stage presence, and was supported by the significant artistry of pianist Craig Bohmler. The mezzo-soprano chose an unusual program that included the Venetian Regatta songs of Rossini, selections from Hugo Wolf''s Italianisches Liederbuch, Poulenc''s Banalities on poems by Apollinaire, four of the Hermit Songs by Samuel Barber, the premiere of Love Letters by pianist Bohmler on courting verses written for the singer by the man she married, and some Spanish and cabaret songs. While much of this material has not been heard at Sunset before, Ms. Chianakas'' used it effectively to show off her range of expression and style, which is comprehensive and winning.
Carmel Valley resident Stewart Robertson, who made his "Live from Lincoln Center" debut Wednesday conducting Britten''s opera Paul Bunyon, has been appointed to the newly created position of Music Director of the Florida Grand Opera in Miami. According to an announcement issued Monday, Robertson accepted a three-year contract that goes into effect June 1. He will work with CEO Robert Heuer to develop and raise musical standards as the company moves into the new Performing Arts Center of Greater Miami, plan repertoire and create new works, and develop all aspects of musical production, including conducting numerous performances. Robertson is already well-known to Miami audiences for his performance with the Florida Philharmonic in FGO productions of Werther, Il Trovatore and Elixir of Love.
Last Week''s Quiz: What 20th-century southeast Asian king played saxophone and led his own jazz band? Answer: Cambodia''s Norodom Sihanouk.
This Week''s Quiz: What 17th-century Englishman arranged Scarlatti keyboard sonatas into 12 concerti grossi?
CSU San Jose Choirs
Thursday, 7:30pm. Charlene Archibeque conducts Choraliers and Concert Choir in works by Mechem, Mendelssohn, Caldara, Tchaikovsky, Eben, Durufle, others. Carmel Mission Basilica, Rio Road at Lasuen Drive, Carmel. $10/general; students/free. 924-4377.
Sunday, 5pm. Vahe Aslanian conducts works of Scarlatti, Caldara, Leo, Vivaldi, with soloists Twyla Whittaker, Layna Chianakas, William Gorton, Steve Rogino. Saturday: Mission Church, San Juan Bautista. $15/general; $6/students. 484-1217.
Pianist Jean Louis Steuerman
Monday & Wednesday, 8pm. Monterey County Symphony sponsors benefit, all-Bach recitals by acclaimed Brazilian artist. Sunset Center, San Carlos Street at 9th Avenue, Carmel. For both concerts: $50, $40, $20; for one concert: $30, $25, $15. 624-8511.
April in Santa Cruz
Wednesday, 8pm. Annual UC new music festival concludes with works by Santa Cruz area composers Ralph Denzer, David Evan Jones, Laura Schwendinger, choreographer Mel Wong. Music Center Recital Hall, UC Santa Cruz. $8/general; $5/seniors; $3/students. 459-2159.