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Gerald Carpenter: CAMA Presents Pinchas Zukerman and Royal Philharmonic

Pinchas Zukerman
Pinchas Zukerman's ready smile belies the seriousness of his approach to music.

The Community Arts Music Association (CAMA) brings to town the celebrated Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with Pinchas Zukerman, conductor and violinist, and Amanda Forsyth, cellist, for a concert at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Granada Theatre, 1214 State St.

World-class fiddler that he is, Zukerman seems reluctant to stand in front of an orchestra with a baton when he could be holding his violin to greater effect.

The CAMA program reflects this preference with two of the three works employing Zukerman in both capacities, as conductor and soloist or co-soloist. They will perform Johann Sebastian Bach's Violin Concerto No. 1 in A-Minor, BWV 1041, Arnold Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), Opus 4 and Johannes Brahms' Concerto in A-Minor for Cello, Violin, and Orchestra, Opus 102.

It was, I suppose, inevitable that the only Schoenberg work to achieve even a toehold on the world's concert programs is the solemn — not to say gloomy — Transfigured Night. Of the three Schoenberg compositions that do not sound hopelessly alien to the uneducated ear — Gurre Lieder, Verklärte Nacht and Pelleas und MelisandeNacht is the only one short enough to fit onto an orchestral program without dominating it.

Gurre Lieder is the composer's most gorgeous score, but at nearly two hours, needs to be the only work played. Pelleas last 40 minutes and is even grimmer, for most of its length, than Nacht. Some daring music director needs to think about trying the Five Pieces for Orchestra — much more accessible, for its weirdness, than Nacht — or, if the conductor is also a violinist, the Violin Concerto, Opus 35, which is a very cool masterpiece. They are much less heavy-handed and easier to stick with than the conventionally tonal Nacht.

This is a thoroughly Teutonic program, serious minded to a degree. The Bach will probably give the most pleasure, the Brahms the most drama.

Single tickets to the Royal Philharmonic are $38 to $103, and they are available at the Granada Theatre box office, which can be reached by phone at 805.899.2222 or online by clicking here.

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

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