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Friday, February 22 , 2019, 3:21 am | Fair 46º


Gerald Carpenter: If It’s ‘Tuesday @ 8,’ It Must Be Hahn Hall

This week's program will feature works by Arnold, Bartók, d'Indy and Fauré

It seems as if the Festival has barely begun, and already we are looking forward to the third of the Music Academy of the West faculty’s weekly chamber music concerts, at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Hahn Hall on the Miraflores campus.

The program for this installment of the “Tuesdays @ 8” series will consist of Malcolm Arnold’s Sonatina for Oboe and Piano, Opus 28 (Cynthia Koledo DeAlmeida on oboe and Warren Jones on piano); Béla Bartók’s Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano (Jeff Thayer on violin and Natasha Kislenko on piano); Vincent d’Indy’s Chansons et danses pour Septuor à Vent, Opus 50 (Timothy Day on flute, DeAlmeida on oboe, Richie Hawley on clarinet, Julie Landsman on horn and Benjamin Kamins on bassoon); and Gabriel Fauré’s Quintet No. 2 in C-Minor for Piano and Strings, Opus 115 (Thayer and Peter Salaff on violins, academy fellow (TBA) on viola, Alan Stepansky on cello and Jerome Lowenthal on piano).

When Sir Malcolm Arnold CBE (1921-2006) was 12, he heard Louis Armstrong play and immediately took up the trumpet, and it was as a trumpeter that, five years later, he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music. Upon graduation, he joined the London Philharmonic as second trumpet, moving up to the first chair two years later.

At the beginning of World War II, Arnold registered as a conscientious objector, but when his brother in the RAF was killed, he volunteered for active military service. When the authorities stuck him into an Army band, he shot himself in the foot to get back to civilian life.

Best-known (if not most-respected) for his film scores — Bridge on the River Kwai, Whistle Down the Wind, The Roots of Heaven, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, Tunes of Glory and many more — Arnold was a prolific composer of works in all the traditional classical forms — symphonies, ballets, concertos, operas, songs, overtures and a wide range of chamber music, and virtually every piece is worth a listen.

His youthful enthusiasm for jazz notwithstanding, Arnold’s music is tonal and conservative, with more folk tunes in evidence than hot riffs. The Oboe Sonatina, written in 1951, was one of four wind-piano sonatinas written between 1948 and 1953. It is a lighthearted work, jaunty or sweetly lyrical in equal measure, and it manages somehow to avoid the endemic melancholy of the instrument — and to pack more good tunes into its nine minutes than Benjamin Britten managed to write in his entire career.

From the briefest work on the program, we turn to the longest. Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924), though I am an enthusiastic admirer of his music, remains an enigma to me. His music — and this seldom-performed Piano Quintet is a good example — has a gleam of perfection to it, as if it were composed of light rather than sound. The justly beloved Requiem sounds much more spiritual than religious. His melodies are lovely but subtle; heart-on-sleeve was never his style.

That is not to make him out as an Impressionist (which would probably have horrified him), because his music, for all its subtlety, is never vague or deliberately obfusticating. Except for the Pavane, Opus 50 and the incidental suite composed for Maurice Maeterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Opus 80, his considerable melodic gifts expressed themselves best in his many wonderful songs. Not that there are no good tunes in the Quintet, but they often seem so inseparable from the architectural grandeur of the work that they are hard to appreciate by themselves. But it is an ethereally beautiful work, and all praise to the faculty members for putting it on the program.

Reserved seats to this concert are $40 (including Miraflores facility fee) and are available only from the Music Academy ticket office at 805.969.8787.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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