Friday, May 25 , 2018, 10:41 am | Partly Cloudy 64º


Gerald Carpenter: Music Club Concert to Start with Mozart, End with Beethoven

The Santa Barbara Music Club's next free concert will start at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Faulkner Gallery in the downtown Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu St.

There is no charge for admission, and the public is invited.

Opening the concert, bassoonist Nicholas Akdag and cellist Andrea Landin will play Wolfgang Mozart’s Sonata in Bb-Major for Bassoon and Violoncello, K. 292 (1775), followed by LUX, a women’s vocal ensemble, with Jane Hahn as director, singing holiday favorites.

The hourlong (or so) concert will conclude with pianist Marian Gilbert performing Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 30 in E-Major, Opus 109 (1820).

It is a virtual certainty that Beethoven never heard this sonata, and it is a complete certainty that no one heard him play it. Thus, there is no performance tradition that amounts to an apostolic succession. No one can pronounce with any confidence on the date of the first performance, but Franz Liszt and Hans von Bülow regularly included it in their programs in the 1830s and 1840s.

Still, every pianist approaching it today is on her or his own. There is a structure, to be sure — a delicate tracery of steel filaments as strong as girders — but it is by no means obvious. Many pianists never discern this underlying coherence, and so avoid meeting the sonata in public.

Gilbert, one of those who have found a lightly marked but direct path through the labyrinth, will make a perfect guide for us. The sonata is Mozartean in its melodious wistfulness; neo-classical in its bright articulation — when the 18th century classicism was still a living memory rather than a reconstruction. It is beautiful in a way that makes me think of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley's "Hellas" (written a year after Opus 109):

The world's great age begins anew,
The golden years return,
The earth doth like a snake renew
Her winter weeds outworn:
Heaven smiles, and faiths and empires gleam
Like wrecks of a dissolving dream.

— 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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