The third in a series of Music Academy of the West "Tuesdays at 8" concerts will take place this week in Hahn Hall.
The program will begin with two pieces by Mark O’Connor, Chief Sitting in the Rain and College Hornpipe, performed by Kathleen Winkler on violin, Alan Stepansky on cello and Nico Abondolo on double bass; then pianist Jerome Lowenthal will play the Chamber Fantasy after Carmen/Sonatina No. 6 (1920) of Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924).
The Serenade in D-Minor for Wind Ensemble, Opus 44 (1878) by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) will be performed by David Weiss and an Oboe Fellow on oboes, Richie Hawley and a Clarinet Fellow on clarinets, Dennis Michel and Bassoon Fellows on bassoons, Julie Landsman and Horn Fellows on horns, Alan Stepansky on cello and Nico Abondolo on double bass; and the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion (1937) by Béla Bartók (1881-1945) played by Jerome Lowenthal and Conor Hanick on pianos, and Edward Atkatz and a Percussion Fellow on percussion.
Except for the Dvořák piece, this is a program devoted to virtuosity and pyrotechnics — complex and demanding for the players, spell-binding for the audience.
At first exposure, the O'Connor pieces seem very glib arrangements from the public domain — the melodies and harmonies that swirl around Appalachia like the smoke from a thousand illegal stills — but lean closer, and let that mountain fatalism pour into you. There is no brew quite like it.
For all the great and wonderful music composed by Busoni, he seems destined to survive in our concert halls as a transcriber and arranger. A famous virtuoso pianist, as well as one of the first to compile a significant discography, Busoni liked to have his piano bench full of reliable crowd pleasers. Opera paraphrases have always been popular and convenient, and Carmen — which the academy will produce later this summer — is one of the best-known operas of the last 200 years.
That said, however, this piece is about 98 percent Busoni original. If he were a second-rate composer, this would signal long stretches of egoistical tedium, with the occasional twitch of a smile when we recognized a melody from the original. But Busoni is a fine composer, and the fantasy is enthralling.
Tickets to this concert are $40. For tickets and information, call 805.969.8787. Free parking is available on the Music Academy campus at 1070 Fairway Road in Santa Barbara. Information is also available online by clicking here.