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Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Chamber Ensembles Offer Spring Concert

Before dispersing to their summer pursuits, musical and otherwise, the talented and spirited musicians at UCSB will come together for a season-closing concert at 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 4, in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall at UCSB.

The concert is in two parts. The first part is much the smaller, both in duration and in the number of players involved, though not, of course, in musical value.

The first half of the program, performed by winners of the quarterly UCSB Chamber Music Competition, is comprised of three works for smaller ensembles (trio-quintet-quartet), under the overall direction of Robert Koenig:

» The "Allegro" and "Lento maestoso-Vivace" from Antonín Dvořák's “Piano Trio No. 4 in e-minor, Opus 90, ‘Dumky’ (1890-91)” (played by Grace Gee, violin; Thomas Lin, cello; Marc Lombardino, piano).

» Robert Muczynski's “Quintet for Winds, Opus 45 (1985)” (Sylvie Tran, flute; Lexie Callaway-Cole, oboe; Min Su Kim, clarinet; Claire Garvais, bassoon; Amy Winter, horn).

» The "Rondo alla Zingarese" from Johannes Brahms' “Piano Quartet No. 1 in g-minor, Opus 25 (1861)” (Sara Bashore, violin; Besnik Yzeiri, viola; Chenoa Orme-Stone, cello; Jared Eben, piano).

Despite its unfortunate bilingual resonances — to the English "dummy" and the German "dumkopf" — the word "dumky" has nothing to do with a sluggish intellect.

Without going into its fairly complex etymology, suffice it to say that in the 19th century a number of Slavic composers began to use the term to denote a classical form of a brooding, introspective composition interspersed with th cheerful sections.

Dvořák applied it to several of his compositions, most notably to this “Piano Trio,” which, notwithstanding its sometimes unsettling bipolarity, remains one of his most popular works.

Wikipedia identifies Muczynski as a "Polish American composer." Since he was born in Chicago, this is a curious designation.

Might as well call Samuel Barber an "English American composer." It implies that he is only half American — not quite one of us, if you know what I mean.

(It also reminds me of the scene in The Deer Hunter when the medical orderly asks the Christopher Walken character if Nikanor Chevotarevich is a Russian name. "No," says Walken, "It's American.")

In any case, Muczynski's music makes no obvious use of Polish folk tunes or culture. The quintet is deft and charming, obviously contemporary but not in-your-face about it.

As for the Brahms quartet, Schoenberg famously insisted it was a detailed sketch of a symphony, and proved it by supplying the "missing" orchestration.

Certainly, the quartet shows Brahms taking himself much more seriously than he usually did in his early chamber works. Whether or not he was thinking "symphonically" at this is a matter for the listener to decide.
The UCSB Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Vlad Vizireanu, will open the second half with the Overture to Gioachino Rossini’s opera “Il Signor Bruschino (1813)," followed by Brahms’ “Academic Festival Overture, Opus 80 (1880),” and Ludwig Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 8 in F-Major, Opus 93 (1812-14)."
Admission to this concert is $10 for the general public, $5 for non-UCSB students with ID, free to UCSB students with ID, and free to children under 12.

Tickets may be purchased at the door, at the Associated Students Ticket Office window (UCEN Room 1535, across from Corwin Pavilion), by calling the ticket office at 805-893-2064, or online at

— 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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