Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 9:05 pm | Fair 67º


Gerald Carpenter: Music Academy of the West Faculty Shows Santa Barbara How It’s Done

'Tuesdays at Eight' summer concert series gets under way ... Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Prominent among what we might call the auxiliary blessings of the Music Academy of the West’s summer session are the chamber music concerts — “Tuesdays at Eight” — by the academy’s illustrious faculty. Incorrigible intellectual that I am, I think of these evenings like a series of special lectures by brilliant and charismatic scholars in their field of particular expertise. (I acknowledge that this analogy will not seem particularly attractive to some of my readers, but my writing tends to have more life if I stick to my own tastes, rather than reach for some mythical consensus.) The concerts have their pedagogic uses, as well, since there is seldom any doubt as to how a piece should be played after these masters have played it.

George Gershwin (1898-1937) is sometimes called 'the American Schubert' — a description that’s not too far-fetched.
George Gershwin (1898-1937) is sometimes called “the American Schubert” — a description that’s not too far-fetched.

So, we will get the first of these marvelous concerts at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Hahn Hall at Miraflores, 1070 Fairway Road. The first half of the program will be devoted to the wind section, with clarinetist Richie Hawley and pianist Jonathan Feldman performing James Cohn’s arrangement for clarinet and piano of the “Three Preludes for Piano” (1926) by George Gershwin, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Quintet in Eb-Major for Piano and Winds, K. 452,” performed by Hawley; Warren Jones, piano; David Weiss, oboe; Dennis Michel, bassoon; and David Jolley, French horn. After a decent interval, we will hear violinist Kathleen Winkler, cellist Alan Stepansky and pianist Jerome Lowenthal play the “Trio No. 2 in Eb-Major for Violin, Cello and Piano, Opus 100,” by Franz Schubert.

The Gershwin Preludes are so brief and insouciant that it is easy to miss how perfectly they accomplish their mission: to fuse the jazz idiom with a strict classical form. They leave you wanting more, a lot more, at the same time wondering what that “more” could possible sound like. Gershwin himself performed the premiere, at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. I’ll bet he could hardly go to a party for years after that without somebody asking him to play at least one of them.

Shortly after the premiere — April 2,1784 — of the “K. 452 Quintet,” Mozart spoke of it in a letter to his father. “I myself,” he wrote, “consider it to be the best thing I have written in my life.” Any questions?

Schubert produced his two piano trios in the last year of his life. Unlike most of the music written by Schubert at the end of his pathetically few years, the composer not only heard the “E-flat Trio” performed, he actually saw it published. He never, for example, heard the “B-flat Trio (No. 1),” which wasn’t published until eight years after he died. Yet, for some mysterious reason, the “B-flat Trio” has been, until quite recently, much the more frequently performed and recorded.

My own awareness, and adoration, of the “E-flat Trio” dates from 1975, when the late Stanley Kubrick used its andante con moto, rather anachronistically, to underscore an exceedingly romantic scene in his epic, Barry Lyndon. Almost immediately, the relative popularity of the two trios reversed dramatically, and the “Opus 100” has been on top ever since. As soon as the second movement starts Tuesday night, you will understand completely.

Tickets to this concert are $37 and can be purchased at the door, or by calling 805.969.8787. Click here to order tickets 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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