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Gerald Carpenter: Music Club to Mix Classics Beethoven and Mozart with Contemporary Ragtime Pianist

Pianist Eric Valinsky
Pianist Eric Valinsky

The Santa Barbara Music Club continues their altruistic series of free events with a concert at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in the Faulkner Gallery of the downtown branch of the Public Library.

Pianist Eric Valinsky begins the program with a performance of Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 15 in D-Major, Op. 28 (1801) — sometimes called, though not by Beethoven, the "Pastoral."

Next, oboist Adelle Rodkey and pianist Mandee Sikich (filling in for the orchestra) play Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Oboe Concerto in C Major, K. 314, (1778).

The concert ends, all too soon, with an original composition by pianist, Eric Valinsky: Rag (1994).

The Beethoven sonata finds the composer, for the most part, in a mellow, contemplative mood. Since he had nothing to do with the nickname, we need not waste our time trying to figure out what parts of the work his London publisher had in mind when he attached "Pastoral" to the work.

It sounds to me as if Beethoven wrote it to play for himself when he was home alone at night. There is a brief flashy passage in the finale, but otherwise there is nothing for the virtuoso in this work. It is gently and purely beautiful.

The Mozart concerto needs even less of an introduction than the Beethoven sonata. The only controversy about it concerns the fact that we don't have the work, as an oboe concerto, in Mozart's hand — only the flute concerto in D Major that he later derived from it — but musicological opinion is virtually unanimous that K. 314 began life as an oboe concerto.

Valinsky composed Rag in conjunction with a dance being choreographed by his wife, Carrie Diamond. In his own words, the pianist is rather self-effacing in describing his work.

"[T]his piece attempts to recreate a gracious piano rag of the turn of the 20th century, but only serves to evoke snatches of a nostalgic past," he said. "By some stretch of the imagination, the piece is actually in rag form, but the unsettled first section doesn't bode well and things quickly get out of control and eventually devolve into chaos. The coda, a return to the first section, serves as a reminder of what might have been."

For additional information about this or other Santa Barbara Music Club programs and performing artists, visit their website at www.sbmusicclub.org.

— 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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