Wednesday, March 21 , 2018, 3:59 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 57º


Gerald Carpenter: Music Club to Celebrate Musical Matrimony

The ensemble will perform a free morning concert at First Congregational Church

The Santa Barbara Music Club’s only event this month will be a free morning concert at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the somewhat unusual — though by no means unprecedented — venue of First Congregational Church, 2101 State St. in Santa Barbara.

Robert and Clara Schumann — their marriage was happy and harmonious.
Robert and Clara Schumann — their marriage was happy and harmonious.

The program might almost be titled “Married Bliss,” since two of the three ensembles performing are comprised of husband and wife.

The first of these, duo pianists Tachell Gerbert and Bradley Gregory, will play Johannes Brahms’ Variations in F#-Minor on a Theme by Robert Schumann, Opus 9. Then the Lyra Chamber Ensemble (Barbara Coventry on violin, John Sonquist on piano and Sally Greenebaum on cello) will perform the Trio in G-Minor for Violin, Piano, and Cello, Opus 17 (1847) by Clara Wieck Schumann (thus two of the composers on the program are also husband and wife).

After that, flautist Andrea Di Maggio and her pianist husband, Neil Di Maggio, will perform the Offertoire for Flute and Piano, Opus 12 by Johannes Donjon (1839-1912), longtime principal flautist of the Paris Opera.

To conclude, the estimable Suzanne Duffy will add her flute to the Di Maggio duo for a performance of the Andante and Rondo for Two Flutes and Piano, Opus 25 by Albert Franz Doppler (1821-83).

The two flute compositions are quite likely to prove the most immediately pleasing pieces on the schedule, melodious and/or virtuosic, and there is little I could tell you about them, in any case. Duffy tells me that the Donjon is from “a standard flute collection, 24 Short Concert Pieces,” and that it is frequently assigned to flute students at the high school level — not to Andrea Di Maggio, however, since she was unaware of its existence until she heard one of Duffy’s students playing it and fell in love with it.

Doppler’s brother Karl was also a fine flautist, and the siblings often toured together. The Andante and Rondo was written for one of the tours and was always a hit.

Brahms found the variation form congenial and fertile. This set, based on the theme from Schumann’s Bunte Blätter, Opus 99, No.1, was written in 1854, at about the same time as his heartbreakingly beautiful Piano Trio No. 1, Opus 8. It manages to be fascinating and poignant at the same time. The work also exists in a version for solo piano.

Schumann wrote her piano trio sometime around 1847, when her husband was also writing his three contributions to the form. The couple never competed with each other. Clara Schumann was one of the most famous pianists in Europe, much better-known to the general public than her husband, and she used her high profile to promote his music. She wrote a good deal of fine music herself, and this beautiful trio, however much “influence” musicologists may espy, reveals a distinct and charming voice, with a wealth of sweet, delicate ideas.

— 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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