At 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, in Zipper Hall on the campus of the Colburn School in Los Angeles, the Colburn Chamber Music Society will offer a concert featuring the spectacular trumpeter Tine (pronounced Tina) Thing Helseth and students of the Colburn School.
Ordinarily, I confine my previews to concerts that are performed at least once in Santa Barbara County, but this one, found by scrolling down a Camerata Pacifica publicity email, has such a fabulous program I felt I had to spread the word.
Colburn has retired from concertizing and divides her time between administering the Colburn School (founded by her father) and distributing her considerable fortune among the arts ($40 million-$100 million, depending on your source).
Clearly, the Colburns are a force for good in our little world, and deserve to have their benevolence advertised.
The program for Saturday’s concert includes:
Philip Glass‘ “Brass Sextet” (1962-64); Paul Hindemith‘s “Drei Stücke für 5 Instrumente” (1925); Bohuslav Martinü‘s “La Revue de cuisine” (“The Kitchen Revue”), jazz-ballet in one act (1927); Oskar Böhme‘s “Sextet for Trumpet and Brass Quintet, Opus 30” (1911); and Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Septet in Eb-Major for 2 Violins, Viola, Cello, Bass, Trumpet and Piano, Opus 65” (1881).
Like the Rodgers & Hart song says: “If they asked me, I could write a book” about this program, but, alas, I have only the time to make a few observations.
The piece by Philip Glass (born 1937) was written partly in Paris, where he studied with the irreplaceable Nadia Boulanger, guru to several generations of and partly after he got home. It predates his discovery of the two-note ostinato that has become his signature, and sounds — dare I say it? — as solidly American as those other, earlier, pupils of Boulanger: Virgil Thomson, Aaron Copland, Roy Harris, George Antheil, and so on.
The works by Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) and Bohuslav Martinü (1890-1959), with their jazzy syncopations and neoclassical acerbity, are unmistakably part of the 1920s. The Martinü is a particular delight — one of the few pieces of “witty” music that actually makes me laugh out loud (though that may be due more to the straightness of Warren Jones’ back as he sat at the upright piano in the performance I heard at the Music Academy).
The sextet by Oskar Böhme (1870-1938), for all of Böhme’s impeccable modernist credentials (he was an older contemporary of Schoenberg and Stravinsky), reminds me of nothing so much as Robert Schumann‘s “Konzertstück for 4 Horns & Orchestra in F-Major, Opus 86” (1849), a captivating discovery of my teen-age years.
Some influential wag once called Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) “the only great composer who was not a genius,” to which I respond: Rubbish! What about Bruckner? Anyway, Saint-Saëns WAS a genius — I think so; Marcel Proust thought so.
The 2nd Movement of the “Septet” provides a gorgeous example of a “trio” — invented by Haydn, of course, and which Paul McCartney calls “the middle part” — in which the dominant character of the movement is subverted, in the middle, by music of a very different character.
Other examples abound, for instance, the 2nd Movement of the Brahms Opus 8. But in my experience, the trio is always worth waiting for.
Helseth will play either trumpet or cornet in all selections. In each one, she will be backed by a different set of collaborators, all students at the Colburn School.
For the Glass, there will be Anna Seok Young Ahn, second trumpet; Isaac Ferrell and Abigail Davidson, horns; Minjae Kim, trombone; and Diego Stine, tuba.
In the Hindemith, Gabriel Crist, piano; Andrea Caputo, clarinet; Isabella Brown, violin; and Michael Banks, double bass.
In the Martinü, Christy Wu, piano; Bruce Bubreg, clarinet; Jordan Farber, bassoon; Charlotte Marckx, violin; and Sanga Yang, cello.
In the Böhme, Ian Mertes, second trumpet; Michael Remish, bass trumpet; Luke Chong, tenor horn; Han Yun (Jonathan) Liang, trombone; and Seth Carter, tuba.
And in the Saint-Saëns, Ryota Yamazaki, piano; Yu-Ping Tsai, violin 1; Sophie Ayer, violin 2; Hope Hyink, viola; Jiahe Zhang, cello; and Alexis Schulte-Albert, double bass.
Tickets to the concert are $15 and $30, and can be purchased at https://checkout.colburnschool.edu/478/499.