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Gerald Carpenter: UCSB to Welcome French Pianist Sophia Vaillant

She will perform a Guest Artist Recital at 8 p.m. Saturday in Karl Geiringer Hall

The UCSB Department of Music will present the awesome French pianist Sophia Vaillant in a Guest Artist Recital at 8 p.m. Saturday in Karl Geiringer Hall of the UCSB Music Building.

Vaillant, a graduate of the Conservatoire de Lyon, Guildhall School and SUNY Stony Brook, has dazzled audiences throughout Europe and the New World.

A brilliant soloist and ace chamber music team player, she also has made quite a name for herself in the specialized world of tango. She plays with the orchestra La Tipica de Juan Cedron and herself founded the group, TamborTango, which divides its performances between traditional tangos and those written by — or under the influence of — Astor Piazzolla.

The program of Vaillant’s recital will consist of Olivier Messiaen’s Regard du Père, César Franck’s Prélude, chorale et fugue, Messiaen’s Regard de la Croix, Maurice Ravel’s Oiseaux tristes, Franz Liszt’s Hangarian Rhapsodie No. 2, plus three of Vaillant’s own transcriptions of tangos by Piazzolla (“Adios nonino”), Carlos di Sarli (“Bahia Blanca”) and Angel Villoldo (“La Cumparsita”).

This is an unusual program to grace an American concert hall. Vaillant has clearly decided to treat us as sophisticated adults — and who can fault her for that?

Messiaen seems to now enjoy a secure and lofty esteem among French musicians and is, ever so slowly, gaining ground in the rest of the world. One key to appreciating him is the recognition that he was obsessed with birds and birdsong. Another is that he practiced an austere, virtually Jansenist form of Roman Catholicism. (In this context, it is interesting to note that the title of the Ravel work Vaillant will play translates into “sad birds”).

On the other hand, Vaillant will speak quite directly to our inner child with the Liszt, for what child who grew into a music lover was not at one time or other thrilled by the pyrotechnics of the Hangarian Rhapsodie No. 2, the mother and father of all virtuoso show-pieces?

Available at the door, tickets to see Sophia Vaillant are $15 for general admission and $7 for students.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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