Friday, July 20 , 2018, 6:16 am | Overcast 66º


Margo Kline: Symphony Reveals Newfound Jewel

A polished Piano Concerto No. 4 simply shines during weekend concerts

The Santa Barbara Symphony unveiled a newfound treasure at The Granada over the weekend — a thrilling piano concerto appearing from out of the past as if by magic.

The Piano Concerto No. 4 by Andre Mathieu was performed under the baton of Nir Kabaretti, with French-Canadian pianist Alain Lefevre as soloist. Composed in 1946-47, the work lay dormant until Lefevre rediscovered it a few years ago.

The pianist was given some old vinyl recordings of Mathieu playing his own compositions. Lefevre received these artifacts in Montreal after playing a concert with one of Mathieu’s few works known at the time. According to the program notes, a woman approached Lefevre after the concert, thrust a bag with the old recordings into his hands and said they rightly belonged with him.

Once Lefevre realized what was on them, he enlisted the help of Montreal conductor and composer Gilles Bellemare in putting the fragmented music together into a playable score.

The result was the three-movement concerto heard Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at The Granada, a stormily romantic work reminiscent of Sergei Rachmaninoff, yet unique. Rachmaninoff himself has been quoted as saying of Mathieu, “A genius, more so than I am.”

The audience roared its approval at the end of the work, and Lefevre came back for several curtain calls. He then sat back down at the piano and played one of his own compositions, Promenade Italienne from Jardins d’Images. Lefevre is a remarkable composer in his own right, as well as deserving praise for resurrecting the work of his tragic but brilliant countryman.

The second half of the program was devoted to the Symphony in D Minor of Cesar Franck. The theme of the concert was “Ooh-La-La,” belying the weight of both of the programmed works.

Franck devoted his life to teaching, to the organ and to his apparently happy domestic arrangement. He was considered a great organist, known for his stirring performances at St. Clotilde in Paris. His students included Vincent d’Indy, who sought to bring his works into prominence before Franck died in 1888.

The Symphony in D Minor, also in three movements, contains a wealth of beautiful and profound melodic passages, and the symphony played them accordingly. The haunting motif of the first movement is carried over into the following section.

The second movement features an English horn in a mournful theme above the accompanying plucked strings. The two early movements are recapitulated in the stirring D-major finale, the third movement. Here, the full orchestra rises to a fittingly Gallic conclusion.

When the French speak of “la gloire,” they are referring to their country’s place in history. Franck was, by all accounts, a modest man, but his music can be seen as a fitting artistic expression of “la gloire.”

— Margo Kline covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >