Paradigm Shift--The Monterey Symphony's second conductor contender
Thursday, November 19, 1998
On the Monterey Symphony podium Sunday in Carmel, Kate Tamarkin eclipsed any memory left by her first competitor for the music directorship, Dmitri Yablonsky. Her performance at Sunset Theater polished off any tarnish that had oxidized on the orchestra since last season, and overcame the results of one less rehearsal and the loss of key section leaders.
By some alchemy, Tamarkin whipped the musicians into high discipline and achieved a complete range of symphonic effects in three very different style works. Moreover, she left a vivid impression of her own artistic ideas, that elusive quality so often painted out by technical distractions during conductor auditions.
To test local waters, Tamarkin jumped in up to her neck by opening with a brand new piece, Texas composer Donald Grantham''s Fantasy on Mr. Hyde''s Song. A virtual thicket of demented themes and spiky orchestration, and inspired by a reference in Robert Louis Stevenson''s psychothriller, the piece deploys itself over a large orchestra, inventing weird instrumental combinations almost in miniature but availing classical sequencing and rhythm patterns to give the ear touchstones to recognize and remember. As if programmatic, the short movement changed moods several times, but always with startling colors.
Prokofiev''s Piano Concerto 3 in C cast Tamarkin in the dichotomous role of master conductor and compliant accompanist. The diminutive Russian Yakov Kasman, silver medalist at the 1997 Van Cliburn Competition, justified his numerous awards with muscle, steel and temperament. Tamarkin didn''t miss a beat. The orchestra played with flying colors, even though the strings, which admittedly are given little opportunity to realize their full sonority, seemed at times to lack full confidence. Regardless, no one in the house will soon forget the absolutely thrilling rush to the final conclusion.
Sonority was in no short supply for Dvorak''s Symphony 8 in G, the work that would demonstrate Tamarkin''s authority in 19th-century classico/romantic literature. The orchestral response here was astonishing. Dynamics, textures, balance, phrasing and momentary solos and outbursts were all expertly guided. Although Tamarkin pushed allegro tempos to a brisk level, a passage favoring the violins in the final movement eliminated any doubt as to her instincts for shaping a melodic phrase.
Sunday night, violinist Martin Stoner appeared at Hartnell College for the Salinas Concert Association. Big works of his program were J.S. Bach''s Partita in D Minor and Prokofiev''s Sonata, Op. 115, both unaccompanied. Intentionally, Stoner used a baroque bow for the Bach, producing a softer but more varied tone. Composed in 1947, the rarely heard Prokofiev reiterated the composer''s familiar classical structures and melodic originality, with characteristic angular virtuosic outbursts along the way.
Paganini''s sixth caprice, with highly trilled accompaniment to an over-arching melody, was not so successful, as Stoner''s accompanying figures often pulled out of tune and the performance never sounded truly confident.
Pianist Melinda Coffey provided a solid foundation for Stoner''s readings of Samuel Barber''s Canzona and Kreisler''s Preludium and Allegro, and complemented the violinist with her own savory solo playing of Debussy''s La serenade interrompue and Clair de lune.
Last Week''s Quiz Composer Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983) was a member of what composer''s collective?
Answer: Groupe des Six, which included Francis Poulenc, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Georges Auric and Louis Durey.
This Week''s Quiz: What 18th century philosopher wrote "The Most High has a decided taste for vocal music, provided it be lugubrious and gloomy enough."?
UCSC Singers & Strings Friday/Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 3pm. See Hot Picks, page 28.
Youth/Honors Orchestras Sunday, 3pm. John Larry Granger conducts music by Brahms, Handel, Liszt, Vaughan Williams, Dr Bruce Lee''s Love''s Labor. Performing Arts Center, Santa Catalina School, 1500 Mark Thomas Dr., Monterey. $5/general, $3/students/seniors. 375-1992.
Ives String Quartet Sunday, 3pm. Newly renamed Stanford Quartet performs string quartets by Ives, Haydn, Mendlessohn. Music Center Recital Hall, U.C. Santa Cruz. $8/general, $5/seniors, $3/students. 459-2159.
Monterey Community Band Sunday, 3pm. Dick Robins conducts Mozart, Lerner & Loewe, tributes to Sinatra and Garland, more. Sunset Center, San Carlos Street & 9th Avenue, Carmel. Free. 646-3866.
MPC String EnsembleMonday, 8pm. David Dally conducts J.S. Bach''s Concerto in F Minor (featuring pianist Melinda Coffey), Britten''s Young Apollo, Grieg''s Holberg Suite and Mahler''s Adagietto. Monterey Peninsula College, 980 Fremont St., Monterey. $5 donation. 646-4200.
Xtet Tuesday, 8pm. David Crockett conducts nine-piece chamber ensemble in Harrison''s Varied Trio, Crockett''s Extant, Schumann''s Fairy Tales, Op. 132, Takemitsu''s Rain Spell, Grantham''s Fantasy on Mr. Hyde''s Songs, hosted by Chamber Music Monterey Bay. Sunset Center, San Carlos Street & 9th Avenue, Carmel. $18. 625-2212.