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Gerald Carpenter: Violinist Valerie Malvinni to Play Lehmann Hall

The string virtuoso will perform three sonatas Friday night with pianist Allen Bishop

Versatile string virtuoso Valerie Malvinni will present a program of violin-piano sonatas at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Lehmann Hall at the Music Academy of the West. Collaborating with Malvinni will be pianist Allen Bishop.

Violinist-violist Valerie Malvinni
Violinist-violist Valerie Malvinni

Malvinni, a Curtis School graduate, is principal violist of the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, is a member of the Santa Barbara Symphony and is a frequent performer with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at both the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.

The accomplished fiddler is also director of the Suzuki Violin School of Santa Barbara, assistant director of Santa Barbara Strings, and an adjunct professor at both Westmont College and SBCC.

On his Web site, Bishop identifies himself as “a psychoanalyst, teacher and pianist living in Montecito.” He is president of the Santa Barbara Music Club and founding director of the Santa Barbara Beethovenfest, as well as a member of the board of directors of the American Beethoven Society.

Malvinni and Bishop will perform the Sonata in C-Major, K.296 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the Sonata in D-Major, Opus 12, No. 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven and the Sonata in A-Minor, Opus 105 by Robert Schumann.

What strikes me about this program, first off, is that all three composers were masters, each in his own way, of the sonata form, but none of them was primarily a violinist — of course, they all knew how to play the violin, but all of them made their first and lasting marks, as performers, on the keyboard.

Mozart wrote all five of his violin concertos in a bunch, when he was 19, whereas he wrote the first of his 27 piano concertos when he was 11 and the last when he was 35, in the year of his death. His 36 violin sonatas, on the other hand, show a temporal spread similar to the piano concertos — the earliest came when he was 6, the last when he was 32. The delightful Sonata in C-Major that Malvinni and Bishop will play is the first of what are called his “mature violin sonatas,” written in 1778, while he was at Mannheim.

The surprise of the program is the Schumann piece. He wrote it in 1851, and it premiered in 1852, with his wife, Clara, at the piano, and a violinist named Ferdinand David. It is a measure of how time was telescoping for him that although this was his first in the form — and by 1853 he had more or less stopped composing altogether — he wrote two more violin-piano sonatas before lapsing into tortured silence. In fact, as gorgeous and romantic as this sonata is, and the most often performed of the three, he didn’t like it.

“I did not like the first Sonata for Violin and Piano,” he said, “so I wrote a second one, which I hope has turned out better.” But as everybody knows, he was crazy.

Tickets to Friday’s concert are $15 for general admission and $10 for students, and are available at Santa Barbara Sheet Music and at the door.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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