The fourth in the series of faculty chamber music concerts known as “Tuesdays at Eight” will take place at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West.
One highlight — out of many — will be a solo performance by distinguished alumna Cynthia Phelps. In town for a masterclass (Monday) and a recital (Wednesday), celebrated pianist Jeremy Denk will also take part in this concert. Admission is $40.
The program for this concert will include faculty artist Edward Atkatz’s percussion piece Turn Key Hotel (Atkatz and Michael Werner on percussion); Maurice Ravel’s Sonatine for Piano (1903-05) (Jerome Lowenthal on piano); Benjamin Britten’s Lachrymae, Reflections on a Song of Dowland for Viola and Piano (1950) (Phelps on viola and Denk on piano); Claude Debussy’s late Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp (1915) (Timothy Day on flute, Phelps on viola and JoAnn Turovsky on harp); and an arrangement for two pianos of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story (Natasha Kislenko and Margaret McDonald on pianos).
Britten is usually at his best orchestrating borrowed melodies. With Lachrymae, however, written for the great William Primrose, he is “reflecting” on the song “If My Complaints Could Passions Move” by John Dowland (1562-1626), not composing a set of variations on the tune — not, in other words, doing what he did with Henry Purcell’s Voluntary in the Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. The result has much more of Britten than of Dowland.
Denk’s “Mosher Guest Artist” recital will take place at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Hahn Hall. The program consists of two longish works, each of paramount importance to musical history: Robert Schumann’s Davidsbundlertanze (Dances of the League of David), Opus 6 and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations, BWV 988. Admission is $50.
The “League of David” is one of the more elaborate products of Schumann’s imagination. He conceived it as a function of his musical journalism, and he named it after King David of Israel, who was a great smiter of Philistines. Thus, whenever he wished to tear a strip off the most egregious of the boors known to him, he could avoid most repercussions by ascribing the criticism to some member of the league — generally one of the two sides of his split personality, manic Florestan or dreamy Eusebius.
The dances themselves — Schumann later tried to remove the “tanze” from the title, but it was too late, the work was already famous — are considered by most musicologists to comprise one of the towering compositions of 19th-century romantic works for solo piano. They are impressive, but lovely, too.
The Music Academy’s splendid Brass Ensemble, under the direction of faculty artist Mark Lawrence, will perform a concert at 8 p.m. Thursday in Hahn Hall. The program is not completely set, but it will include Richard Strauss’ Fanfare für die Wiener Philharmoniker (1924), John Williams’ Sound the Bells and the Brass Symphony (1979) by Dutch conductor and composer Jan Koetsier. Admission is $29.
Reserved seats to these three events can be purchased by phone at 805.969.8787 or online by clicking 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.