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Gerald Carpenter: Timothy, Nikki Chooi to Play as Duo in Ojai

Fresh from his triumphant April performances of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Santa Barbara Symphony, violinist Timothy Chooi teams up with his brother, Nikki, also a dazzling violinist, and the sterling pianist Robert Koenig to play a concert under the auspices of the Chamber on the Mountain series in Ojai.

This exciting event takes place at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Logan House (adjacent to the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts in Upper Ojai), at 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rdoad. There will be a “Meet the Artists” reception following the performance.

The Choois’ program includes Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata in C Major for Two Violins (1932); Maurice Ravel’s Violin-Piano Sonata No. 2 (1923–27), Camille Saint-Saëns’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 75 (1885), Pablo Sarasate’s Navarra for Two Violins and Piano, Op. 33 (1889) and, as an encore, Vittorio Monti’s Csárdás for two violins (1904).

The only piece that may present some challenges to conservative music lovers is the Prokofiev, which was written in 1932, before he had definitively returned to the Soviet Union.

Reflecting on this Sonata in 1941, the composer wrote: “Listening to bad music sometimes inspires good ideas... After once hearing an unsuccessful piece for two violins without piano accompaniment, it struck me that in spite of the apparent limitations of such a duet one could make it interesting enough to listen to for ten or fifteen minutes...”

Somewhat jittery in the opening movements, the third movement is exquisite — not quite the full blown romanticism that was to come, but definitely lyrical in mood and dreamy in tone.

If you haven’t heard the Ravel before, you are in for a surprise treat. The composer’s friendship with George Gershwin has had a somewhat jazzy effect on Ravel’s art deco shimmer, turning it into a shimmy in spots.

Tickets to this concert are $25, and advance reservations are available by calling 805.646.9951 or visiting www.chamberonthemountain.com.

— 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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