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Gerald Carpenter: Chamber Orchestra to Showcase Violinist Saeka Matsuyama

The Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra will play its last concert of the year — though not, of course, of the 2012-13 season — at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Lobero Theatre.

Violinist Saeka Matsuyama
Violinist Saeka Matsuyama

The guest soloist will be international sensation and violinist Saeka Matsuyama, with the orchestra conducted by Music Director Heiichiro Ohyama.

The program will consist of Leoš Janá?ek’s Suite for String Orchestra (1877), Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto No. 2 in E-Major for Violin and Orchestra, BWV 1042, Edvard Grieg’s Two Elegiac Melodies, Opus 34 and Vladimir Martynov’s “Come in!” for Violin and Ensemble.

Matsuyama will be featured in the Bach and Martynov pieces.

This is, simply put, a gorgeous program from start to finish, with no stick patches in between. The Janá?ek is an early work, one of his first for a purely instrumental ensemble, and it may well be that knowing that makes me think of it as diffident. It has, in any case, a gossamer kind of feel, and is exquisite without being precious, backward looking without sentimentality. The more I hear of this composer, the more I want to hear.

Anybody here not know and adore the Bach violin concerto? Raise your hands. I thought so.

Grieg is always likely to surprise. Try to peg him as twinkly, elfin musical Tolkien, and you bump into the violin/piano sonatas. Try to peg him as a Northern Liszt and you hear these two lovely pieces that live up to their titles and then some.

Martynov was born in Moscow in 1946, which means he was 45 when the Soviet Union finally gave up the ghost. Martynov was only 7 when Joseph Stalin died, and after that, an artist was unlikely to be shot for espousing aesthetic principles at odds with the powers that be, though it didn’t do their careers much good. Martynov became a serialist, at first, and caucused with the likes of Alfred Schnittke and Edison Denisov at the Alexander Scriabin Museum.

Then, after years of studying Russian and Renaissance religious music, plus a decisive encounter with American minimalism, he changed course utterly. You’re naturally thinking of Arvo Pärt, and you are not far off.

But, for me, “Come in!”, from 1988, sounds more like the Richard Strauss of the 1940s, like Metamorphosen, like the violin solo of the song “Going to Sleep” from the Four Last Songs, and especially like the sweet chamber music coming from another room in the opening scene of Strauss’s last opera, Capriccio — a sublime mediation on the relative importance of words and music.

Tickets to this concert are $47 to $52, and can be purchased from the Lobero box office at 33 E. Canon Perdido St., 805.963.0761 or online by clicking here.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. 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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