The club members responsible for devising this program have managed to gather a quite astonishing variety of music and musicians into the one-hour frame of the concert.
We will begin with two pieces for solo oboe by Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) — the Fantasia in D-Minor and the Fantasia in Bb-Major — played by oboist Adelle Rodkey. Then, trumpeter Nik Valinsky and pianist Eric Valinsky (they might be related) will perform the Légende (1906) of George Enescu (1881-1955), followed by soprano Annie Thompson singing the Six Songs, Opus 4 — “Oh stay, My Love, Forsake Me Not!” “Morning,” “In the Silent Night,” “Oh, Never Sing to Me Again,” “The Harvest of Sorrow,” “So Many Hours, So Many Fancies” — by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), with the collaboration of pianist Christopher Davis.
Mary Jo Hartle on flute and Per Elmfors on clarinet will next team up to play the Duos for Flute and Clarinet, Opus 34 (1974) by Robert Muczynski (1929-2010). The afternoon will conclude on a suitably gorgeous note when pianist Ellen Feldman plays the Ballade No. 4 in F-Minor, Opus 52 by Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849).
During most of his 86 years, Telemann was easily the most famous German composer, putting Johann Sebastian Bach and George Handel in the shade. His reputation has slipped since then, and it’s unlikely he will make it back to the top of the late German baroque hit-parade, but he wrote an incredible amount of music, and much of it is wonderful — particularly his sets for solo instruments such as the violin and the oboe.
Rachmaninoff was a considerable songwriter. By my count, he published at least 85 songs from 1890 to 1916. Most are quite lovely, and if we rarely get to hear them except on recordings, that is probably due to non-Russian vocalists being reluctant to add that language to the English, French, German and Italian already necessary for a career of concertizing. Rachmaninoff’s cessation of songwriting after he went permanently into exile no doubt has something to do with being disconnected from Russian culture — living among émigrés in Los Angeles or New York is not the same thing at all.
Whatever the competition among composers in his native land, Enescu has Rumanian music all to himself (name another). Although most of his career was pursued in Vienna, Paris and New York, he was devoted to his homeland, and used much Rumanian folk music in his compositions, which are broadly tonal and very accessible.
Muczynski was born in Chicago and died in Tucson. He was a composition student of Alexander Tcherepnin at DePaul University and made his Carnegie Hall debut when he was 29, playing his own works for piano. Several of his chamber pieces featuring wind instruments have found a secure place in contemporary concert programs. There are at least two sets of “duos” in his catalog that are identified as “Opus 34” — a set for two flutes from 1974, and one for flute and clarinet that is copyrighted in 1991 — so he probably had a clarinetist friend who kept bugging him until he arranged the 1974 piece to include a clarinet.
For information about the Santa Barbara Music Club, click here or call 805.687.5537.
— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.