Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 4:08 pm | Fair 76º


Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Welcomes Guest Pianists for Duo Recital

One of the great advantages of having a major university in one's community is that very intelligent, accomplished and/or talented people drop by the campus on a regular basis — to give a lecture, teach a course or perform a concert.

An example of the latter type of visit, one that is a particular boon to music lovers, is the "Guest Piano Duo Recital" that will be presented with free admission by the UCSB Department of Music at 7 p.m. Friday in UCSB Karl Geiringer Hall (Music 1250).

Laura Spitzer, professor of piano at New Mexico State University, and Antoinette Perry, professor of piano at the USC Thornton School of Music, will play works by Johann Sebastian Bach (the exquisite chorale, "Sheep May Safely Graze"), Johannes Brahms (Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Opus 56, and a selection of 10 waltzes from Walzer (16), Opus 39), Maurice Ravel (La Valse) and William Bolcom (Recuerdos).

Of all the combinations that a collaborative pianist can get into, the collaboration with another pianist — either four hands on one piano or two pianos — tends to be the most involved, as well as the most fun. There always seems to be an element of play involved, even in the somber pieces. The duo is often based on friendship, or on strong musical affinities, or on mentoring.

While it lasted, the quasi-official Epperson-Jones duo gave the Music Academy of the West’s Tuesdays at Eight concerts some of their most thrilling, and most transcendent moments. The piano duo, anyway, strikes me as a unique musical relationship. The literature is vast — exponentially larger than for any other same-instrument duo. Two weavers on the same tapestry, they also have to trust each other like trapeze artists. The co-ordination must be perfect, yet it must never sound like a gymnastic event.

Both Spitzer and Perry have notable independent careers, as soloists and chamber players, but they clearly get something out of playing as a duo that they don't otherwise get, or they wouldn't keep doing it. I'm glad they are playing a lot of Brahms — it is his chamber music and the late works for piano that make Brahms' strongest claims for immortality.

The concert, as I said above, is free, and Geiringer Hall is a limited space, so an early arrival is advised — especially since late arrival is always awkward and usually prohibited.

— 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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