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Gerald Carpenter: Academy Faculty to Play Mozart, Ravel and Tchaikovsky This ‘Tuesday at 8’

The second “Tuesdays at Eight” faculty chamber concert of the Music Academy of the West’s 2014 Summer Festival begins at 8 p.m. Tuesday (duh!) in Hahn Hall on the Miraflores campus.

Maurice Ravel
Maurice Ravel, an elegant cat, wrote the most elegant of all gypsy-inspired rhapsodies.

We will hear Wolfgang Mozart's Quintet for Piano and Winds, K. 452, performed by Eugene Izotov on oboe, Richie Hawley on clarinet, Denis Michel on bassoon, Julie Landsman on horn and Jonathan Feldman on piano; Maurice Ravel's "Tzigane" Rhapsody for Violin and Piano (1924) by Elmar Oliveira on violin and Hiromi Fukuda on piano; and Peter Tchaikovsky's Trio in A-Minor for Violin, Cello, and Piano, Opus, Opus 50 (1882), played by Kathleen Winkler on violin, Alan Stepansky on cello and Warren Jones on piano.

When he finished composing his piano-winds quintet, in March 1784, Mozart wrote to his father that it was “the best work that I have composed.” Now, when we consider how much immortal, irreplaceable music he had written by that point, we have to filter this flat boast through about 500 layers of the incredibly complex relationship he had with his father — an impossible task, of course — so that it is virtually useless, if we were to be so bold as to attempt to rate this work in the Mozart oeuvre.

Suffice it to say, for our purposes, the quintet is charming and undemanding — or, as Robert Craft would say, it is “simply another perfect mansion in the kingdom of Mozart.”

Ravel wrote his "Tzigane" — the name is simply one of the many European words for “gypsy” — in part to showcase a patented attachment for the piano called a “luthéal,” which I am not going to go into because you are not likely to ever see one, let alone hear how it makes a piano sound.

As with Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata, the exotic musical device for which it was written has completely disappeared, while the composition has become one of the composer’s more popular works. It was commissioned by, and dedicated to, a pretty young Hungarian violinist — great niece of Joachim — with the unforgettable name of Jelly d'Arányi.

The Tchaikovsky trio is, to my ear, the most wonderful piano trio ever written. Subtitled “In memory of a great artist,” it is a magnificent act of homage to his friend and mentor, Nikolai Rubinstein, who had died the previous year. (When Sergei Rachmaninov wrote his piano trio — the Trio élégiaque — in memory of Tchaikovsky, he used the same basic structure and created the same melancholy sound world as the Tchaikovsky trio.) The pianist at the Moscow premiere was the fine composer, Sergei Taneyev; though Tchaikovsky himself played the piano part in 1891, at the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Tickets to this concert are $40. For tickets and information, call 805.969.8787. Free parking is available on the Music Academy campus at 1070 Fairway Road in Santa Barbara. Information is also available online by clicking 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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