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Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Symphony to Feature Winning Combination of Soloists

Competition winners Katherine Stuwe, Keith Colclough and Helena von Rueden will be part of Wednesday's concert

The UCSB Symphony Orchestra will round off its winter quarter with a concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall.

Helena von Rueden will set down her baton and raise her voice at the next UCSB Symphony Orchestra concert.
Helena von Rueden will set down her baton and raise her voice at the next UCSB Symphony Orchestra concert.

The concert, called “Soli e Tutti” (“Soloists and All”), will be conducted by Richard Rintoul and will showcase the winners of the annual Orchestral Soloists Competition — Katherine Stuwe on flute, Keith Colclough on bass-baritone and Helena von Rueden on mezzo-soprano.

The program consists of works by Carl Reinecke (Flute Concerto in D Major, Opus 283), Jacques Ibert (Chansons de Don Quichotte), François Poulenc (La Dame de Monte-Carlo, Opus 180) and, after an intermission, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Symphony No. 5 in E-Minor, Opus 64, 1888).

It’s fair to say that the first half of this program is for connoisseurs. Reinecke was best-known, while he was alive, as a pianist — at 80, he recorded his playing on the miraculously sensitive piano rolls of the Welte-Mignon company, thus becoming the earliest-born (1824) pianist to have his playing preserved in any format — and as a teacher, mentoring, among others, Edvard Grieg, Christian Sinding, Leoš Janáček, Isaac Albéniz, Felix Weingartner and Max Bruch.

Nowadays, he is known almost exclusively as the composer of two works for the flute — the Sonata “Undine” in E-Major for Flute and Piano, Opus 167 (1882) and the lovely Concerto in D Major, Opus 283, which came out in 1908, two years before the composer’s death. Stuwe will be the soloist in this performance.

Colclough will sing Ibert’s Chansons de Don Quichotte, which were written for a 1932 film based on Cervantes’s romance, directed by Georg Pabst, and starring the great Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin. Ibert’s songs made it into the film as a result of an unscrupulously managed competition. The producers had approached, in all, five well-known composers -— the others were Marcel Delannoy, Manuel de Falla, Darius Milhaud and Maurice Ravel — and “commissioned” them to write songs for the film, leading each composer to believe that he was the only one.

Ibert was a friend of Ravel and an ardent admirer of his music, and when he learned that Ravel had written his own Don Quixote song cycle that had been passed over in favor of his own, he was greatly embarrassed (Ravel, naturally, was furious). Nevertheless, the two composers remained friends, and had the satisfaction of seeing both their marvelous song sets enter the repertory.

Poulenc’s La Dame de Monte-Carlo also suggests a movie — something from the French New Wave starring Jeanne Moreau — though it is only cinematic and not actually from the cinema. Poulenc in 1961 set this poem by his old friend and collaborator Jean Cocteau, and turned it into a kind of exquisite monodrama, about a woman down on her luck in the Las Vegas of the Riviera. The soloist is von Rueden, the remarkably talented conductor and mezzo-soprano.

Tickets to Wednesday’s concert are $15 for general admission and $7 for students, and will be available 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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