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Academy Faculty Mixes Old, New, Borrowed and Blue

This week's 'Tuesdays @ Eight' concert offers an eclectic combination of music

The next Music Academy of the West faculty chamber music concert — “Tuesdays @ Eight” — will take place in the Lobero Theatre at 8 p.m. Tuesday (Bastille Day for you, Francophils).

The remarkable program consists of Henri Dutilleux’s Sarabande et Cortège (with Benjamin Kamins on bassoon and Natasha Kislenko on piano); Leoš Janáček’s Capriccio (with Natasha Kislenko on piano, Timothy Day on flute, Paul Merkelo on trumpet, Mark Lawrence on trombone and four student musicians); Franz Josef Haydn’s Trio in F-Sharp Minor for Piano, Violin and Cello, Hob. XV:13 (with Jonathan Feldman on piano, Kathleen Winkler on violin and Alan Stepansky on cello); Paul Hindemith’s Kleine Kammermusik for wind quintet, Opus 24 No. 2 (with Timothy Day on flute, David Weiss on oboe, Richie Hawley on clarinet, Benjamin Kamins on bassoon and David Jolley on French horn); Felix Mendelssohn’s Sextet in D Major for Piano and Strings, Opus 110 (with Jerome Lowenthal on piano, Kathleen Winkler on violin, Donald McInnes on viola, a student violist, Alan Stepansky, on cello, and Nico Abondolo on double bass).

Dutilleux was born in Angers in 1916 and is, apparently, not only still alive but still composing. His music is very consciously in the tradition of Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy — the same quest for clarity; a similar refinement of gesture — but rather more distinct and idiosyncratic. The Sarabande et Cortège was composed in 1942, a dark time for French patriots, albeit the darkness shows up in the Sarabande and dissipates somewhat in the Cortège.

Leoš Janáček wrote Capriccio at the request of one-armed pianist Otakar Hollmann.
Leoš Janáček wrote Capriccio at the request of one-armed pianist Otakar Hollmann.

One is encouraged by the steady climb in popularity of Czech composer Janáček (1854-1928). Within living memory, if one heard him at all, it was the — certainly gorgeous — Sinfonietta, and that not very often. Fortunately for us, the Czechs are quite determined to keep all their music in circulation, and not just Dvorak and Smetana. Janáček and Martinu, who sound completely unlike each other, are two of the greatest European composers of the 20th century. Janáček is the easier of the two to place, with his exotic harmonies and Slavic folk elements.

World War I certainly took a toll on music. Three great, or potentially great, composers were killed outright: Albéric Magnard, George Butterworth and Rudi Stephan.

At least two great pianists had their right hands blown off: Paul Wittgenstein and Otakar Hollmann. Wittgenstein, brother of the philosopher, came from a rich family and commissioned works for the left hand from Richard Strauss, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Paul Hindemith, Sergei Prokofiev, Benjamin Britten and Ravel. Hollmann, of more modest means, had to talk various composers into the same project: Tomášek, Kaprál, Schulhoff, Martinů, and, finally, Janáček, who wrote Capriccio for him in 1926.

One is also glad to see Hindemith’s music increasing its audience. The Kleine Kammermusik — the name means, simply, “Little Chamber Music” — is nimble and cheeky and very much a product of the Roaring Twenties.

Tickets to this week’s “Tuesdays at Eight” are $33, and can be purchased from the Lobero box office at 33 E. Canon Perdido or 805.963.0761, by calling the Music Academy hot line at 805.969.8787, or by visiting the academy online at www.musicacademy.org.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

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