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Gerald Carpenter: Academy Faculty Artists Play Sonatas for Something and Piano

New on the ground at the Music Academy this summer are concerts featuring members of the faculty performing sonatas for their instrument, usually in collaboration with a pianist (unless, I suppose, it is a piano sonata).

The first of these takes place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 19, in Hahn Hall on the Music Academy main campus, 1070 Fairway Road. The overall direction of these concerts is in the capable hands of pianist Jonathan Feldman.

The program for this first Sonata Recital consists of:

Darius Milhaud's "Quatre Visages for Viola and Piano, Opus 238 (1943)," (performed by Richard O'Neill, viola; Margaret McDonald, piano).

Georges Enescu's "Légende for Trumpet and Piano (1906)," (Paul Merkelo, trumpet; Natasha Kislenko, piano)

Sofia Gubaidulina's "Sonata for Double Bass and Piano (1975)," (Nico Abondolo double, bass; Jonathan Feldman, piano);

François Poulenc's "Sonata for Oboe and Piano (1962)" (Cynthia Koledo DeAlmeida, oboe; Warren Jones, piano)

Wolfgang Mozart's "Violin-Piano Sonata No. 25 in F-Major, K. 377 (1781)" (Pamela Frank, violin; Jeremy Denk, piano).

Quite an exotic mixture, you will agree.

Least familiar of the composers is doubtless Gubaidulina, who was born in Russia in 1931 to a Russian mother and a Volga Tatar father.

(Volga Tatars are a Turkic ethnic group, native to the Volga-Ural region, who are, you will be surprised to learn, Russia's second-largest ethnicity).

Though she was not of Jewish ancestry, Gubaidulina's childhood spiritual development grew in a medium of Jewish traditions and beliefs.

She had to keep this to herself throughout her childhood, even from her parents, since not only did the Soviet Union frown on any religious beliefs, but Joseph Stalin, ruler of the USSR for the first 22 years of her life, was a virulent anti-Semite.

Gubaidulina's music often reminds me of the opening chapter of Genesis: "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."

That is, the music seems to be forming itself out of chaos, one idea at a time.

The Poulenc "Oboe-Piano Sonata" is one of the loveliest of all his works. Written near the end of his life, the sonata reverses the familiar fast-slow-fast sequence of movements, with slow, melancholy movements framing a somewhat frantic and nervous scherzo.

He has not altogether eschewed irony, but uses it in such measured and shapely ways that it comes off sounding almost classical.

Tickets to this concert start at $35. Call 969-8787 for availability, or go online to www.musicacademy.org/.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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