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Monday, March 25 , 2019, 5:30 am | Fair 46º


Gerald Carpenter: Graduate Pianist Pascal Salomon to Perform Bach, Chopin and Schumann at UCSB

The UC Santa Barbara Department of Music will offer the Doctor of Music recital of pianist Pascal Salomon, at 7 p.m. Saturday in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall at UCSB. Admission is free.

Rather than issue an avant garde challenge with his valedictorian program, Salomon has elected to play music that his future audiences will be glad to pay to hear, to wit Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita No. 6 in e-minor, BWV 830 (published 1731); Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne in E major, Opus 62, No. 2 (1846), Three Mazurkas, Opus 63 (1846-7) and the Waltz in Db-Major, Opus 64, No. 1 “Minute Waltz” (1847). The newly minted Dr. Salomon will close with Robert Schumann’s Fantasie in C-Major, Opus 17 (1836).

This ravishingly pianistic program chronicles the rise to power of the Romantic movement in music, and of the virtuoso pianist at the center of it. Yes, even Bach is brought to play along, for the Partita is one of the most romantic scores he ever penned. There are passages when we might be listening to Claude Debussy or Aleksandr Scriabin. At times like these, one feels that the praise of his fanatical admirers — that “He is the spectator of all musical time and existence, to whom it is not of the smallest importance whether a thing be new or old, so long as it is true”—is no more than a simple fact.

The Chopin pieces are all among the last music he wrote, when he was still on Earth but not exactly of it. The Mazurkas, with their pungent ethnicity, are substantial and ethereal at the same time. The Nocturne, sweetly melodious, has an almost abstract purity.

At his peak, Schumann was the quintessential Romantic — Byronic, passionate, expansive — and however many peaks he enjoyed in his too-short life, the Fantasie certainly represents one of them. Most music historians rank it among the most important solo piano works of the 19th century. It is a veritable Romantic flood. Much came of it.

— 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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