Monday, June 18 , 2018, 9:25 am | Fair 63º


Gerald Carpenter: Symphony Welcomes Guest Cellist Joshua Roman

Sunday afternoon's concert at The Granada also will feature Mark Russell Smith as guest conductor

Mark Russell Smith will serve as guest conductor for the next pair of concerts by the Santa Barbara Symphony — at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at The Granada — and the guest artist will be the prodigally talented cellist Joshua Roman, familiar to many of us as an alumnus of the Music Academy of the West and famous throughout the music world for having won the first chair cello spot with the Seattle Symphony at the unbelievable age of 22.

Oswvald Golijov’s biography and heritage comprise a veritable United Nations of influences.
Oswvald Golijov’s biography and heritage comprise a veritable United Nations of influences.

The program for these concerts consists of four works: Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings (from String Quartet, Opus 11), Osvaldo Golijov’s Ausencia for cello and strings, Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme for Cello and Orchestra and Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 in C-Major, Opus 61.

Barber’s Adagio shines with an austere beauty that is its own explanation. Originally, as the slow movement of his String Quartet, it was intended as an exercise in quasi-baroque counterpoint. Barber arranged the movement for string orchestra at Arturo Toscanini’s request, and since the latter conducted its premiere more than 70 years ago, it has never been necessary to even revive it.

One of the most popular “classical” composers in the world today, Golijov was born in Argentina (1960), whither his Jewish family had moved from Romania and the Ukraine in the 1920s. Golijov began his musical education in Buenas Aires, continued them in Israel (1983-1986) and completed them in the United States, where he now resides, in Newton, Mass.

Ausencia — “Absence” — premiered in 2007, with the great Yo-Yo Ma as soloist. It represents the fusion of two earlier works, “Ômaramor” for solo cello and the string-orchestra piece “Death of the Angels,” both dating from 1991. To bind the two pieces together, Golijov wrote a new solo cello part for the second half. The work is scored for solo cello in the first half (eight minutes), cello and strings in the second (7 minutes). The overarching purpose of the work is an act of homage to the Argentine tango and two of its greatest practitioners, Astor Piazzolla (1921-92) and Carlos Gardel (1887-1935), and also to the exiled Argentine playwright, Omar del Carlo.

Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, as close as he ever got to a full cello concerto, are also an act of homage — to Wolfgang Mozart, the definitive Rococo composer. The piece was written in 1877.

Schumann sketched out his Second Symphony in 1845, but ill-health and what would now be called “clinical depression” kept him away from it until 1847. Nevertheless, the work is cheerful, mainly, and it has been surprisingly enduring as a concert staple — while the Spring and the Rhenish have rather languished in recent years. As with Barber, the slow movement is strongly contrapuntal in texture.

Tickets to these concerts are available from The Granada box office, 1214 State St., or 805.899.2222, or click here to order online.

— 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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