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Gerald Carpenter: Santa Barbara Music Club Unleashes the Pianists

The next free concert sponsored by the Santa Barbara Music Club will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Faulkner Gallery of the downtown Santa Barbara Library.

The somewhat unusual program has been arranged by the dazzling young Santa Barbara pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran, and will feature her and the talented pianist Sergio Gallo.

The concert will begin with Ucbasaran performing Wolfgang Mozart's Twelve Variations on "Ah vous dirai-je, Maman," K. 265, after which Gallo will take us through to the end, starting with Seven Pieces ("Petite Romance, "La gondola," "Repos d'amour," Is oiseau l'etais," Wiegenlied," Danklied nach Sturm," and "Rhapsodie in F minor") by Adolf von Henselt (1814-1889), and ending with two transciptions: Carl Maria von Weber's Invitation to the Dance, Opus 65, transcribed by von Henselt; and Giacomo Meyerbeer's Les patineurs, transcibed by Franz Liszt.

You may well wonder who this von Henselt guy was, and after you hear his music, you may also wonder why you have never heard of him. He was born in Germany, to German parents, but he spent almost his entire career in St. Petersburg, at the Court of the Tsar. He was a very fine composer, a great pianist — in fact, the founder of the majestic Russian pianistic tradition, much admired by Sergei Rachmaninov.

Von Henselt's music is romantic and intimate, very much in the line of Frédéric Chopin and Irish composer John Field, who also spent much of his career in Russia, dying there the year before von Henselt arrived. If there is any justice among music lovers, von Henselt is due for a big-time revival.

Finally, one should bear in mind that there are at least two major musical compositions named Les Patineurs, both based on the music of Giacomo Meyerbeer. One, which we will hear Saturday, is Liszt's transcription of a number from Meyerbeer's opera Le prophète; the other is the 1937 ballet, choreographed by Frederick Ashton, with music drawn from two Meyerbeer operas, Le prophète and L'Étoile du Nord, and arranged by Constant Lambert.

— 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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