8 months ago

CAMA presents Academy of St Martin in the Fields with Joshua Bell / Wednesday, March 14, 2018, International Series at The Granada Theatre, 8:00 PM

CAMA's International Series at The Granada Theatre presents Academy of St Martin in the Fields Wednesday, March 14, 2018 The Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara, 8:00 PM Joshua Bell, Music Director and Violin Felix Mendelssohn: Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op.21 Henryk Wieniawski: Violin Concerto No.2 in D minor, Op.22 Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F Major, Op.68, “Pastoral” The Academy of St Martin in the Fields returns with famed Music Director and Violinist Joshua Bell. As one of the world’s premier chamber orchestras, the Academy is renowned for its fresh, brilliant interpretations of the world’s most-loved classical music. Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era, and his restless curiosity, passion, and multi-faceted musical interests are almost unparalleled in the world of classical music. •

hee-haws. Loud horn

hee-haws. Loud horn calls evoke both the threatening darkness of the forest and Theseus’ hunting party. Mendelssohn was creating new sounds. Many composers had conjured the fairy world before, but no one had been able to do it so convincingly and completely. Henryk Wieniawski made a splash as a child prodigy in Warsaw and the Paris Conservatory, and all over Europe as one of the leading violinists of the mid-19th century, but his most important musical legacy came from his time in Russia, where he lived from 1860 to 1872. He settled in St. Petersburg at the invitation of pianist-conductor-composer Anton Rubinstein, his sometime duet partner, who was in the process of founding the St. Petersburg Conservatory and believed that Wieniawski could help raise Russian musical standards. Wieniawski’s distinctive bow technique (keeping the right elbow high and pressing the bow with index finger’s second joint) was transmitted through Leopold Auer, his colleague, sometime pupil and successor at the Conservatory, to two generations of violinists. Auer’s students, including Mischa Elman, Jascha Heifetz, Efram Zimbalist and Nathan Milstein, dominated the violin world in the early and mid 20th century. Wieniawski may thus have been the biggest single influence on violin playing in the 20th century. It was in St. Petersburg in 1862 that Wieniawski produced his second concerto, his most significant statement as a composer. It is a bold work that strives for power and drama. Unusually for a 19th-century concerto, the orchestration includes trombones, as if Wieniawski were emphasizing its seriousness. He dedicated it to the to the 18-year-old Spanish violinist Pablo Sarasate, another prodigy who would soon be regarded as a rival. The concerto was a great success, and stayed successful for generations. In his 1925 book Violin Master Works and Their Interpretation, Leopold Auer wrote that outside of the “three violin superconcertos” (Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Brahms), its popularity was rivaled only by the Saint-Saëns concerto in B minor and Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole. The current status of the latter three works is a sign of how much tastes change; the status of the former three is shows how much tastes stay the same. The opening movement is dark, brooding and dramatic, but the tension dissipates into a short transition for a lone clarinet that leads into the soulful slow movement, which Auer described as “a song to sung in a way which will make us forget the instrument.” The finale, marked “à la Zingara” (“gypsy style”) brings back the lyrical secondary theme of the first movement to contrast with the main theme’s energetic scampering. Ludwig van Beethoven composed his fifth and sixth symphonies at the same time, working on them in 1807 and 1808, with much of the work done in the countryside outside Vienna where he liked to spend his summers. As different as the two works are—they seem like the products of two different minds— they were very much twins. At their first 10

Ludwig van Beethoven Henryk Wieniawski performance, in Vienna’s Theater an der Wien in December 22, 1808, their numbering was reversed, with the Pastorale called the fifth and played earlier on the all- Beethoven program. That concert, by the bye, also included the Gloria and Sanctus from the Mass in C, a piano improvisation, the concert aria “Ah, Perfido,” and the first performances of the fourth piano concerto and the Choral Fantasy. For all its breathtaking ambition, the four-hour-long concert did not go particularly well. Four hours of new music by a composer noted for writing difficult music would have been a dicey proposition even without the decline in Viennese orchestral playing caused by the Napoleonic wars, the seasonal unavailability of some of the better players, the coldness of the theater, the difficulties inherent in having Beethoven direct the performance when his hearing was failing (it would be his last public performance), and insufficient rehearsal time. Beethoven was not the first composer to write music about nature, and would not be the last. But he approached it, as he did everything, in his own distinctive way. There are programmatic touches, but most of the impressions are internal. In the first movement, about “awakening of cheerful feelings on arriving in the country,” and the last movement, a song of “grateful feelings” after a storm, nothing actually happens. Droning basses might obliquely suggest stereotypical shepherds’ bagpipes, and the flute may contribute the occasional birdchirp here and there in the busier parts of the first movement where they may escape notice, but otherwise the music is solely about feelings. The second movement is more pictorial in its depiction of the flowing brook, but 11