The Santa Barbara Music Club will begin its 2010 events with a free concert at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the Faulkner Gallery of the main branch of the Santa Barbara Public Library.

The program is an exceptionally rich one, even for this generous outfit. To open, violinist Philip Ficsor and pianist Paula Hatley will perform three works: Rêve d’enfant, Opus 14 by Belgian virtuoso and composer Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931); the “Gigue” from the Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750); and the Praeludium and Allegro by Viennese master Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962).

Then, the incomparable pianist Betty Oberacker will tackle the “Langsam getragen” and “Durchweg leise zu halten” from one of the landmarks of pianistic romanticism, the Fantasy in C Major, Opus 17 by Robert Schumann (1810-56).

Last but certainly not least, a trio made up of Emily Sommermann on violin, Claudia Vanderschraff on cello and Neil Di Maggio on piano will play the first two — the essential — movements from the Trio No. 1 in B-Major, Opus 8 by Johannes Brahms (1833-97).

The opening theme is diffident — almost hesitant — but Brahms, who was only 20 when he wrote the trio, soon has us all but swooning on the romantic heights to which his music has brought. Glorious as the opening movement is, the scherzo — in the 18th century, it would have been a minuet — is even more so; that is, the trio at the heart of the scherzo suddenly transports us into heaven, or to a memory of heaven.

The Music Club will offer one of its matinée concerts later in the month, at 3 p.m. Jan. 23, also in the Faulkner Gallery. Admission, of course, is free.

One of the advantages of putting on a free concert is that you can put pretty much anything you like — within reason — on the program. Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) has an ever-growing fan club, and no wonder. His music is generally charming, often very pretty or very witty — sometimes simultaneously — and always well made.

The Santa Barbara chapter of the Martinu club includes flutist Mary Jo Hartle, cellist Sally Greenebaum and pianist Rosa LoGiudice, for on Jan. 23 they will play his Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano, H. 300 (1944). Pianist Donna Massello-Chiacos will follow the trio, performing Schumann’s “Papillons” (“Butterflies”) and Claude Debussy’s “La fille aux cheveux de lin.”

To close, violinist Randy Garacci and pianist Marian Gilbert will play Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s delightful Violin Sonata in C Major, a Prelude in G Minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff (no doubt written for him to play with his friend, Fritz Kreisler), and the Santa Barbara premiere of Gustavo Leone’s recent work, Devoto Viego.

For more information about the Santa Barbara Music Club, click here or call 805.683.0811.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at