The next episode in the Music Academy of the West’s “Festival Artists Series” will take place at the traditional time and place of 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Lobero Theatre.
The program for this concert has been gathered under the rubric of “SonataFest” and will consist of four works cast in the time-honored sonata form.
They are Leó Weiner’s Violin-Piano Sonata No. 2 in F#-Minor, Opus 11 performed by Kathleen Winkler on violin and Jonathan Feldman on piano, the world premiere of Pierre Jalbert’s Clarinet-Piano Sonata by Richie Hawley on clarinet and Conor Hanick on piano, Lev Kogan’s Chabad (Hassidic Suite for Horn & Piano) by Julie Landsman on horn and Hiromi Fukuda on piano and Johannes Brahms’ Violin-Piano Sonata No. 3 in D-Minor, Opus 108 (1887) by Glenn Dicterow on violin and Martin Katz on piano. Most of us won’t have to listen very long before we hear something we like.
You may well wonder, after you have heard his lovely, superbly-made Sonata, if there is much else of the same quality to be heard by Hungarian composer Weiner (1885-1960) and, if so, why he is so obscure. I haven’t an answer that satisfies all the ramifications of the question.
Weiner was much better-known as an educator, joining the faculty of the Landesakademie of Musical Art in Budapest in 1908, and staying there for the remaining 52 years of his life. He was an academic but his music was not — at least, not in the sense that we apply the word today (i.e., theoretical). The Sonata flows with melodies like a mountain stream. And, yes, there is plenty more where that came from.
Late in his career as a composer, Weiner introduced folk melodies into some of his work, but unlike Bartók and Kodály, he was no field researcher. His Hungarian nationalism received a reality check in the 1930s, being himself of Jewish heritage, but he weathered both fascism and communism and died full of honors in his hometown of Budapest.
Neither his Hungarian nationalism nor his Judaic background had much impact on the harmonic structure of Weiner’s work. In contrast, Israeli composer Kogan revels in his ethnicity. The Chabad is more than a little reminiscent of Fiddler on the Roof.
If it’s any help, the American Academy of Arts and Letters says that “Pierre Jalbert’s music immediately captures one’s attention with its strong gesture and vitality. Rich in instrumental color and harmonically engaging, its narrative is dramatically compelling yet always logical in its flow. In the orchestral Chamber Symphony, big sky and Fire and Ice, and in numerous chamber compositions, he synthesizes an array of current musical resources into bold, deeply satisfying, personal statements that surprise and delight.”
The Brahms Sonata is a late work, and so manages to be intimate and cosmic at the same time.
Tickets to this Festival Artists concert are $10 and $42, and those ages 7 to 17 are admitted free. For tickets and other information, call 805.969.8787 or click here.
— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at email@example.com. The opinions expressed are his own.