Friday, December 2 , 2016, 10:39 am | Fair 61º


Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Players Makes Maiden Voyage Monday

It seems that the UC Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra has proven too unwieldy and cost-ineffective to be sustainable. It has been broken down, so to speak, into its component parts. Long live the newly formed UCSB Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Players (Christopher Rountree, conductor), which will offer its first concert ever at 8 p.m. Monday in the Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall on the UCSB campus.

Composer Samuel Barber (1910-1981) in his early 20s.
Composer Samuel Barber (1910-1981) in his early 20s.

The ensembles will play a split program. The first half will feature the UCSB Chamber Players performing works by Francis Scott Key (“The Star-Spangled Banner”), Camille Saint-Saëns (Tarantella in a-minor for Flute, Clarinet and Piano, Opus 6), Johannes Brahms (Trio in a-minor for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Opus 114, and Felix Mendelssohn (String Quartet in a-minor, Opus 13 — the latter performed by UCSB’s stellar string group, the Young Artists String Quartet.

The second half introduces the UCSB Chamber Orchestra playing Samuel Barber’s Four Excursions for Solo Piano, Opus 20(transcribed by Richard Valitutto), the Overture to Wolfgang Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute, and Claude Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.

For those unfamiliar with the step, the “tarantella,” in origin, is a dance that allegedly mimics the agitated twitches and jerks of a person who has been bitten by a tarantula. As filtered through the refined, ironic consciousness of Saint-Saëns, of course, the effect is somewhat different. Brahms’ Opus 114, like so many of the flawless gems he created at the end of his life, seems to exist in a region of Known Space where critical judgment is irrelevant. His achievement of formal perfection coincided with a reflowering of the spontaneous lyricism of his youth. Read ‘em and weep.

It will be interesting to hear the Barber orchestrated. Being himself a notable pianist, Barber wrote quite a bit for solo piano, including these Excursions, written in 1944. They are very cool, but, it seems to me, utterly pianistic. I’m prepared to be impressed.

Admission to this concert is $15 general, $7 students. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or click here to purchase tickets in advance.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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