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Gerald Carpenter: Piano-Violin Duo to Perform Benefit Recital

Friday's concert will be heavy on Russian tastes, with some French and Spanish seasonings

Superb UCSB pianist Natasha Kislenko will team up with Bulgarian violinist Chavdar Parashkevov to play a concert for the benefit of the Santa Barbara Warming Center homeless program.

Portrait from life of Alfred Schnittke by Reginald Gray.
Portrait from life of Alfred Schnittke by Reginald Gray (1972).

The recital will start at 7:30 p.m. this Friday, April 1, in the sanctuary of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, 1535 Santa Barbara St.

Kislenko and Parashkevov will perform violin-piano sonatas by Russian composers Alfred Schnittke and Leonid Nikolayev, as well as works by Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Pablo de Sarasate and others.

Kislenko and Parashkevov have recently recorded a CD — due out as we speak — of modern Russian violin sonatas, including those by Schnittke and Nikolayev. Although Kislenko lives in and is deeply involved in the musical life of Santa Barbara (UCSB, the Music Academy of the West and the Santa Barbara Symphony), this concert is a stop on what must be considered a world tour she and Parashkevov are making, probably in support of the new CD. It began in eastern Europe, and who knows where it will end.

Schnittke (1934-98) is generally identified as a “Russian” composer, and as such, he is to my taste the finest, most interesting of the breed from the generations since Dmitri Shostakovich. But, in fact, his parents were both Jews of German descent (his father was born in Frankfort), his first language was German and his musical ideas were shaped mainly in Vienna, where his father was posted as a journalist and translator, rather than Moscow or Leningrad. (Nothing is more futile than attempting to interpret genius in terms of “national character.”)

He was, thus, just the kind of “rootless cosmopolitan” that Joseph Stalin — a virulent anti-Semite — was always railing against. Nevertheless, he spent most of his creative life in the Soviet Union, only relocating to Hamburg in 1990, the year before the USSR ceased to exist. When he died in Hamburg, in 1998, his remains were brought back to Russia and buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow, the final resting place of many other prominent Russian composers, including Shostakovitch. However dramatically his music evolved and changed, stylistically, it remained noble, honest, coherent and starkly beautiful.

Tickets for the recital are $15 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors. UCSB music students get in free.

— 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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