Follow the Leader?--The Monterey Symphony's first conductor candidate competes with concertmaster.
Thursday, October 22, 1998
Dmitri Yablonsky, the first of seven announced candidates for the Monterey Symphony music directorship, must have believed the high-profile first violins were a quicker study. Their problems began when concertmaster William Barbini rushed the tempos in the opening and closing movements of Prokofiev''s Symphony 1 "Classical" Sunday afternoon in Carmel. In an inescapably transparent texture, some of them followed Barbini and some Yablonsky, producing the worst ensemble playing to emerge from this orchestra in years. Fortunately, the slower interior movements fared better and achieved some measure of dignity and character.
Despite some sloppy attacks, and another episode of Barbini''s over-assertive leadership, Yablonsky''s accompaniment in Tchaikovsky''s Rococo Variations kept good attention to Shauna Rolston, the talented young Canadian cellist who has reinvented her appearance along the punk lines of British violinist Kennedy (the artist formerly known as Nigel). Rolston exhibited exceptional range, from soulful melodies to fiery pyrotechnics. Some of her careening antics hit every ephemeral note on the button; on other go-for-broke assaults, however, whole series of notes missed the mark. But this was of minor consequence given her confident air and fearless commitment. The audience, perhaps encouraged by the conspicuous applause of Symphony manager Joe Truskot, was treated to an encore, Tchaikovsky''s Nocturne, Op 19:4.
Yablonsky finally got a true performance in Brahms'' Symphony 1 in C Minor, starting with the second movement. The conductor took an unusually slow tempo in the first movement''s Un poco sostenuto, which nearly stalled during takeoff, but established some muscle tone in the allegro. Without disclosing any particular personal insights into the score, he went on to convey a musical response to the work. The orchestra, in all but a couple of spots, settled confidently into its execution. Barbini and hornist Phil Richardson delivered their significant solos handsomely.
Ensemble Monterey Music Director John Anderson has announced a season of extremely ambitious programming, running from October through April at Monterey Peninsula College Music Hall. This repertoire poses not only extraordinary technical challenges, but makes even greater stylistic demands, accounting in part for why one rarely encounters it. The season opens Oct. 30 with Lou Harrison''s Seven Pastorales (the venerable composer is slated to provide spoken introductions), Prokofiev''s Overture on Hebrew Themes, Martinu''s jazz-inspiredLa revue de cuisine and d''Indy''s Dance Suite in Antique Style. Other works that take their cues from ancient examples (like the d''Indy) include Reynaldo Hahn''s enchanting Le bal de Batrice d''Este (Jan. 16); Chavez'' "imagined Aztec music" Xochipilli and Falla''s Harpsichord Concerto (Mar. 6); Holst''s St. Paul''s Suite and Respighi''s Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite 2 (Apr. 24). Other rarities by R. Strauss, Bernard, Revueltas, Martinu, Ginastera, Surinach, and the daunting Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings by Britten, will fill out the season. cw
Last Week''s Quiz If your favorite violin player cannot specifically identify the ''eye of the bow,'' look here next week. Answer: It''s the inset (usually mother of pearl) at the exposed end of the screw that tightens the frog.
This Week''s Quiz: What state in Brazil supplies the most prized wood for violin bows?
Carmel Music Society Friday, 8pm. Vocal quartet sings Andrew Lloyd Webber songbook in a fund-raising benefit performance. Sunset Center, San Carlos Street at 9th Avenue, Carmel. $20, $25, $35. (Pre-concert buffet & post-concert dessert reception extra.) 373-6569.
Calder Piano Duo Saturday, 8pm. Peros Family Foundation sponsors recital of Philip Calder works played by Philip and Ludwig Calder. Music Center Recital Hall, UC Santa Cruz. $13/adults; $5/students. 459-2159.
Guitarist Elena Papandreou Wednesday, 7pm. Greek artist in recital. Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Hartnell College. 156 Homestead Ave., Salinas. $15/general; $8/student. 728-7020.