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Gerald Carpenter: Music Club Offers French Arias, Bassoon Showpieces

Things seem to be getting back on track around town, after the derailment of the recent fire and floods.

For one thing, I'm happy to report the Santa Barbara Music Club's next free concert, scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, in the Faulkner Gallery of the downtown Public Library — this concert will actually take place at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, in the Faulkner Gallery of the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu St. Whew!

The program begins with soprano Deborah Bertling and pianist Renée Hamaty performing opera arias from Georges Bizet’s Carmen (1875), Charles Gounod’s Faust (1859) and Jacques Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffman (1880).

Then, bassoonist Paul Mori, violinists Andrea Lárez and Mirah Ray, violist Erik Fauss, and cellist Timothy Beccue, will play Antonio Vivaldi’s "Bassoon Concerto No. 23 in g-minor, F. VIII," and Mathieu Lussier's "Spring Lullaby for Bassoon and Strings (2005)."

Finally, violinist Han Soo Kim and pianist Neil Di Maggio will play Franz Schubert’s "Fantasie in C-Major, D. 934 (1827)."

It is symptomatic of the amazing fecundity of Vivaldi (1678-1741) that of his 500-plus instrumental concertos, 40 are for bassoon. It is a testament to Vivaldi's genius that every one of these 500 concerti is a stand-alone gem.

The g-minor concerto played here is appropriately jaunty, melodic, and altogether delightful.

"A versatile musician with an inquiring mind, bassoonist-composer-conductor Mathieu Lussier (b. 1973) energetically and passionately promotes the modern and baroque bassoon as solo instruments throughout North America and Europe," the Music Club said.

"His works are heard regularly in concert halls in North America, Europe and Australia," the Music Club said.

The "Spring Lullaby" is brief but exquisite, requiring no period of adjustment for the music lover.

The Tales of Hoffman was Offenbach's last opera, and his masterpiece. He never heard it performed.

Before he died, some six months before the premiere, he wrote to his producer: "Hurry up and stage my opera. I have not much time left and my only wish is to attend the opening night." Alas!

— 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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