The Santa Barbara Music Club's first free concert of the new year takes place at 3 p.m. Saturday in their familiar venue of the Faulkner Gallery in the downtown branch of the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu St.
The bright, mostly visual program — tone paining, as it were — will consist of Albert Franz Doppler's Duettino sur motifs américains, Opus 37, performed by Eliana and Elizabeth van Renterghem on flutes and Neil Di Maggio on piano; Joaquin Rodrigo's Cuatro Piezas ("Caleseras," "Fandango del ventorrillo," "Prayer of the Princess of Castile," "Danza Valenciana"), 1936-1938, played by Di Maggio on piano; Wolfgang Mozart's Sonata in Bb-Major for Bassoon and Violoncello, K. 292, performed by Paul Mori on bassoon and Kathryn Mendenhall on cello; and Claude Debussy's Estampes ("Pagodes," "La soirée dans Grenade," "Jardins sous la pluie"), 1903 played by Robert Else, piano.
Doppler (1821-83) played the flute, of course, as did his brother Karl, and their tours together were very popular. Franz wrote this "Little Duet" for them to play together, and flautists to this day have been making a hit with it. The "American themes" that I was able to identify are "The Star-Spangled Banner" — which shows up after three-plus minutes of high-quality noodling — and "Yankee Doodle."
As a composer, Franz was mainly as student of Franz Liszt. He is said to be Polish born, though the town in which he was born is now part of the Ukraine and was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His name is German, but owing to his long years working in Budapest he is sometimes called "Ferenc" Doppler (perhaps in deference to the Liszt associations). Yet, the title of this piece is, for some reason that would no doubt become clear were we to learn the circumstances of its composition, in French. Va calcolate! (to throw in some Italian for a pan-European feel).
The music of Rodrigo (1901-99) tends to make nonsense of any approach but the purely sensual.
If all composers were this simple and transparent and pretty, we wouldn't need guys like me at all. Nobody has to be talked into listening.