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Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Concert to ‘Spotlight’ Overlooked Genius

The third in UCSB Music's new series of "Spotlight" concerts, hosted by Jeremy Haladyna, will play at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Lotte Lehmann Hall.

Georges Migot
Georges Migot may have found that being too witty stood in the way of fame and fortune — even in France.

Spotlight 3's program will consist of the Little Fugue in G-Minor, BWV 578 by Johann Sebastian Bach (arranged by Moore) performed by Ben Donlon, Andrew Manos, Robert Deichert and Nick Diamantides (mallet percussion); the Trio for Flute, Violin and Harpsichord by Georges Migot (1891-1976), performed by Adriane Hill on flute, Matisse Geenty on violin and Haladyna on harpsichord; Movement III (Adagio cantabile-Allegro vivace) from the Sonata No. 3 in A-Major for Cello and Piano, Opus 69 by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), played by Larissa Fedoryka on cello and Leslie Cain on piano; and the Suite for Percussion and Piano by Jef Maes and William Van Neck, with Andrew Manos and Aaron Jones on percussion and Rosa Lo Giudice on piano.

"I've been wanting to play something of Migot's for decades," Haladyna said. "Now I finally get my chance. He's one of the great musical iconoclasts of all time. All three of us playing [the Trio] feel it's something quite profound and special."

I must admit, with some embarrassment, that Migot has been unknown to me, until now. Having heard a few of his pieces by now — and been astonished at their beauty, as well as the sheer confidence of their composition — I have come to the conclusion that Migot must have been something of a smart-aleck, who irritated his contemporaries (he would, for instance, present himself as the "Group of One" while Francis Poulenc and his buddies were ruling the Parisian roost as "Les Six").

There is, at any rate, no musical reason for his obscurity. He was also a writer and a painter. At this point, I find that the only one of his contemporaries, whose music resembles his own, is Albéric Magnard, who died defending his country home against the invading Germans in the fall of 1914. When I hear more of Migot, and I will, I will probably have to abandon this comparison.

In 1925, Irving Schwerke wrote: "Any record or discussion of 'modern' music that does not reckon with Migot is incomplete and out of balance, for he ranks among the uniquely interesting and serious contemporary French composers. He is one of the few music-makers of the time who not only possess the ability to attract attention, but the genius to express something worthwhile as well, and consequently he merits serious consideration."

Chances are, when you have heard the Trio, you will agree with every word of this paragraph, and you will want to scratch your head at the mysteries of musical reputation.

Admission to this, and all Spotlight concerts, is free.

— 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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