Thursday, October 30, 2003
Photo: The Devil''s Music: Violin ensemble La Pieta plays homage to Devil-inspired songs through the ages, on Halloween in Carmel.
If the rarified air of a chamber music recital doesn''t conjure up images of the Devil getting his groove on, your perception might change tomorrow when Lucifer and his bad self appear live at Carmel''s Sunset Center. Satan reluctantly shares the bill with the string ensemble La Pieta in "The Infernal Violin," the opening night concert of Chamber Music Monterey Bay.
A tribute to classical and modern works inspired by the Evil One, "The Infernal Violin" features music ranging from Franz Liszt''s "Mephisto Waltz" to an unusual combination of the Rolling Stone''s "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Paint it Black." In between the 11 songs in the performance, Satan banters on about his very personal connection to the music.
Angele Dubeau is the founder and lead violinist of La Pieta, a 12-woman group from Montreal named in honor of the Venetian convent orchestra for which Vivaldi wrote most of his pieces 300 years ago. Dubeau hatched the idea for "The Infernal Violin" while researching the music she wanted to record for her 23rd CD, beginning with the "Devil''s Trill" by 18th-century composer Giuseppe Tartini, who supposedly claimed the Devil played the tune for him in his sleep.
Finding that many compositions she liked had Satanic undertones, Dubeau decided to devote the album to the Devil''s influence on the various pieces of music chosen. "The musical idea of this concert is first to visit playfully the repertoire of different eras," she says. "But the important thing is the composers were all inspired by this same devilish theme."
For live performances of "The Infernal Violin," Dubeau decided to bring a devil on stage to help flesh out the material. Noted Canadian actor Romano Orzari developed the role in French, but performs it in English for the group''s present US tour. The CD Infernal Violins won a Juno award (the Canadian Grammy) in 2001.
Despite appearances to the contrary, Dubeau insists she has not signed a pact with Beelzebub. "The Devil is not in my house. I''m positive and I love life. It''s just that the violin has been very often the instrument of the Devil," says Dubeau. She cites 19th-century Italian composer and violinist Nicolo Paganini as an example. "Paganini was so talented that critics attributed his outstanding virtuosity to a pact he had signed with the Devil himself," she says, noting that the Church denied Paganini a Catholic burial in part because he had allegedly said the Devil "led him by the hand" while he played.
While Dubeau has been honored for her spirited playing on her circa 1733 Stradivarius, she has happily managed to avoid any comparisons to the Devil. In fact, because of her name, more often than not she''s compared to an angel. "I''m not saying that I am an angel, but my personality is more on that side than the dark side," she says.
Dubeau assures Carmel audiences that they needn''t fret about crossing paths with Satan at Friday evening''s performance. "It''s a nice devil and always with not quite a smile," says Dubeau. "The only reason he''s there is to bring the music alive, to say the Devil loves music."
Still, sharing a stage with such a scene-stealer is not easy. During one of the Devil''s longer soliloquies, Dubeau has to interrupt to remind him who''s in charge. "You have to realize that you''re our guest, but it''s our concert, so don''t take my place," Dubeau tells Satan. By curtain time, both Dubeau and the Devil know where they stand on La Pieta''s stage. "He''s not the boss," says Dubeau. "I''m the boss."
La Pieta performs "The Infernal Violin" Oct. 31 at 8PM at Carmel''s Sunset Center. Wear a mask to the 7pm reception and you might win a prize. 625-2212.