Pianist (and local favorite) Natasha Kislenko, and the internationally acclaimed violinist Chavdar Parashkevov, will start the Santa Barbara Music Club’s 2023-24 season at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 4575 Auhay Drive, with a concert of works by Eastern European composers, which they have gathered under the rubric La Belle Époch.
Admission, as with most Music Club events, is free.
La Belle Époque, according to the Music Club — who got it, I daresay, from Wikipedia — is “a period of European history usually considered to have begun around 1871 and to have ended with the outbreak of World War I in 1914. It was characterized by optimism, economic prosperity, and technological and scientific progress in both Europe and the United States.”
The first three composers on the Kislenko & Parashkevov program fit very nicely into the Belle Époque time frame.
We’ll hear the “Impromptu Concertant in Gb-Major, for Violin and Piano” (1903) by the Romanian George Enescu (1881-1955); the “Morceaux de salon (Romance, Danse hongroise) for Violin & Piano” (1893) and the “Morceaux de Fantaisie (Nos. 1, 2, & 4, including the famous “Prélude in c♯-Minor”) for Solo Piano, Opus 3” (1892) by the Russian Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943); and the “Liebeslied in Db-Major, Opus 7, No. 1” (1891) by the Czech Josef Suk (1874-1935), who was Antonín Dvořák’s son-in-law.
The last three composers on the program are, like the violinist himself, Bulgarian, and, while decisively Eastern European, they cannot, except in spirit, be considered part of the Belle Époque.
The pieces and composers of this half of the program include: the “Little Suite for Solo Viola” (1951) by Marin Goleminov (1908-2000); the “Peasant Rhapsody, Opus 2,” by Peter Hristoskov (1917-2006); and the “Chant” from the “Bulgarian Suite, Opus 21” plus the “Rachenitsa” from “Two Bulgarian Paraphrases for Violin and Piano, Opus 18” by Pancho Vlaldigerov (1899-1978).
There is an unmistakable element of favorite son-ism in the inclusion of Goleminov, Hristoskov and Vlaldigerov; yet, having now listened to as much of their music as YouTube would allow, I can attest to their being very fine, accessible composers who have not (probably on account of the Cold War) been heard in the West as often as they deserve, if they have been heard at all.
This concert is an ideal occasion to start redressing the balance.
For information on this or other Santa Barbara Music Club programs and performing artists, visit www.SBMusicClub.org.