Faintly Classical--Ensemble Monterey delivers robust program of "neo-classical" works.
Thursday, January 21, 1999
Ensemble Monterey had a scare during their program last Saturday at Monterey Peninsula College. A new member of the board of directors suffered a temporary fainting spell while moving music stands in preparation for the second work on the program. None the worse for the obvious upset, the musicians came smartly back to deliver their most enchanting moments in Reynaldo Hahn''s Le bal de Batrice d''Este. Composed in 1909, the work falls into the genre variously called "neo-Classical" or "neo-Baroque," that enjoyed a wave of enthusiasm in the early decades of the century.
(Other well-known examples include Respighi''s The Birds, Ravel''s Le tombeau de Couperin, Stravinsky''s Dumbarton Oaks Concerto, Strauss''s Dance Suite after Couperin and Prokofiev''s >"Classical" Symphony.)
Hahn''s delicate touch is only emphasized by his transparent scoring for flutes, clarinets, oboes, horns, trumpet, harp, piano and percussion. In Baroque fashion, the movements unfold a suite of dances, as beguiling in their colors as in their rhythms. A joyful terpsichorean spirit caught up the musicians and Brian Handley, their guest conductor. (Handley has been active in area music education since early this decade, and is the new director of instrumental music at Carmel High School.)
Music director John Anderson opened the program with a divertissement by Emile Bernard, a 19th-century Frenchman who, apparently influenced by Gounod''s Petite symphonie for winds, wrote a similarly scored work along the lines of a four-movement Classical sonata complete with recycled themes.
After intermission, Anderson returned to conduct the evening''s meatiest course, the Suite in B flat for 12 winds and contrabass by Richard Strauss. The famed conductor Hans von Blow promised the still inexperienced composer that he would play such a work at Meiningen if it was worthy, and contained a fugue. At the premiere, von Blow abruptly demanded that Strauss conduct the piece, launching the younger man''s career by way of a double baptism. (Soon thereafter, von Blow dropped the other shoe by putting Strauss in charge of the court orchestra there.) Owing to the weight of sonority, the work filled the Music Hall with rich tones, the kind of hearty fare that warms the spirit just as a bubbling cacciatore drives winter''s chill from the body.
The Irving M. Klein String Competition will hold its 14th annual competition, June 12 and 13, in the McKenna Theater at San Francisco State University. First prize is $10,000, with smaller cash prizes for second through fifth runners-up. Contestants must be aged 15 to 23 as of June 12, 1999. A non-refundable entry fee of $45 must accompany an audition tape and completed application, and be received by the postmark deadline of Feb. 15, 1999, at IMK Competition, S.F. State Music Department, 1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco CA 94132. To obtain an application or more information, phone (415) 338-7618.
Former Monterey Symphony Music Director Clark Suttle will be conducting the chamber music class of the String Ensemble Practicum, at Monterey Peninsula College, during the spring semester, starting Feb. 1.
Last Week''s QuizIt''s the annual Big One, with prizes and a deadline of Jan 22. See CW of Jan. 7, p. 25, for details.
Santa Cruz Chamber Players Saturday, 8pm. Flutist Stephanie Gelman-Peck, soprano Kathryn Adkins, four colleagues perform chamber and vocal works by Hummel, Detilleux, Sargon, Martinu, Cohen. Temple Beth El, 3055 Porter Gulch Rd., Aptos. $12/general, $9/seniors, $5/students, free under 12. 425-3149.
Monterey Symphony Sunday, 3pm; Monday, 8pm; Tuesday, 8pm. Bernard Rubenstein conducts Shostakovich''s Symphony 9, Rachmaninoff''s Symphonic Dances, trumpet concertos by Haydn, Torelli, featuring soloist Wolfgang Basch. Sunday/Monday: Sunset Center, San Carlos Street at 9th Avenue, Carmel. Tuesday: Sherwood Hall, 940 N. Main St., Salinas. Ticket prices, reservations, 624-8511.