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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 4:50 pm | Fair 61º


Gerald Carpenter: Pianists Leon and Katherine Fleisher to Perform Mosher Recital

This week's Mosher Guest Artist recital takes place at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West.

Celebrated pianist Leon Fleisher consults a score with his wife, pianist Katherine Jacobson Fleisher.

The concert features the incomparable piano artistry of Leon Fleisher, in collaboration with his pianist wife, Katherine Jacobson Fleisher.

Solo and/or duo, the Fleishers will perform Johann Sebastian Bach's “Sheep may safely graze” from the Hunting Cantata, BWV208 (arranged by Egon Petri); Claude Debussy's "La puerta del Vino" from the Préludes, Book II and "Clair de Lune"; Johannes Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzes; Franz Schubert's Fantasy for Piano Four-Hands; and Maurice Ravel's La Valse (1920) (arranged for four-hands by Lucien Garban).

If the order of the pieces listed on the academy website represents the order in which they will be played, then we will start in a world of such total and bucolic peace that "Sheep May Safely Graze," and conclude in a world so decimated by the Great War (as they called it then) that it would seem impossible to ever again speak the word "Peace" except ironically.

I'm obliged to point out, however, that Ravel himself categorically denied any connection between World War I and La Valse, which he began before the war, originally calling it "Vienna."

"While some discover an attempt at parody, indeed caricature," Ravel wrote, "others categorically see a tragic allusion in it — the end of the Second Empire, the situation in Vienna after the war, etc. ... This dance may seem tragic, like any other emotion ... pushed to the extreme. But one should only see in it what the music expresses: an ascending progression of sonority, to which the stage comes along to add light and movement."

I daresay that most music lovers, however, especially those with a sense of history, will not immediately think, "Ah! an "an ascending progression of sonority"! but will imagine a continent of waltzing ghosts and strutting martinets. We are happiest when we can use music for time-traveling.

Ravel wrote La Valse for orchestra, and, a brilliant pianist, made the first piano transcription himself, a solo, and it is fiendishly difficult. The Fleishers will use a four-handed transcription by Garban.

Tickets to this Mosher Guest Artist recital are $10 and $55, with those ages 7 to 17 admitted free. For tickets and other information, go in person to the Music Academy at 1070 Fairway Road, call 805.969.8787 or click here.

— 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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