Carmel Bach Festival 2019: Guitar Hero

Jason Vieaux

            During a Festival, you immerse yourself. While you would expect Bach compositions to dominate at the Carmel Bach Festival, we actually get to enjoy so much more. The music offered for our listening is always in some way connected to Bach. Often, the best way to figure out the connection is by attending the pre-concert talk and reading the program notes. Musicologists who offer these viewpoints are often as entertaining and enlightening as the music itself. In the case of “Guitar Hero,” the main concert for Friday, July 19, 2019, the program selections initially seemed distant from Bach, but the pre-concert talk and program notes pulled it together for me and I felt more prepared as I settled into my seat. 

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Carmel Bach Festival, Classical Era, Orchestral, Romantic Era

CBF 2019: Family Concert — Leonard & Rasmus

Leonard & Rasmus

            How do you have fun bringing music to young families? Through a party with bugs! Carmel Bach Festival did just that the morning of Saturday, July 20, 2019. They filled the stage at Sunset Center with musicians from the Bach Festival Orchestra, Chorus, and a few local musicians. After 6 years of fun, the gang really knows how to capture the audience. We follow Leonard and Rasmus on adventures as they explore the world through music with an engaging story created and directed by Suzanne Mudge. Narration is provided by Bach Festival Artistic Director Paul Goodwin. The whirlwind of music, puns and costumes entertains young and old alike. This year, the subject was bugs.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Carmel Bach Festival, Classical Era

Rarified: Juho Pohjonen in Recital

Juho Pohjonen

In a rare moment of programming, Finnish virtuoso pianist Juho Pohjonen selected two composers of distinct musical personality, Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) and Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915), as the subjects of his marathon Carte Blanche recital at [email protected]’s Stent Family Hall, Saturday, July 20. Having been appointed Compositeur du Cabinet du Roi in 1745, Rameau had created a series of harpsichord suites consisting of both dance pieces and ‘character’ elements, those possessing programmatic or picturesque associations. Innately intellectual, Rameau nonetheless sought to express music of strong feeling, tenderness, and sensibility, what he calls “the language of the heart.” The mystical Russian, Scriabin, for his part, embarked on a totally subjective form of expression, a kind of post-Romantic solipsism, a musical reality defined by his own ego – invested with musical means  adopted from Chopin, Schumann and Liszt – but transmogrified into a ‘philosophy of light,’ commensurate with the paintings of J.W.N. Turner or the religious poetry of William Blake, a vision of revealed ecstasies. Pohjonen chose three sonatas composed 1912-1913 by Scriabin: the 6th, 8thand 10thSonatas, a triptych that might have itself mounted an amazing, emblazoned arch of rapture, albeit impinged upon by moments of sinister mystery.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Baroque, Piano

CBF – Concertmaster Peter Hanson presents Psycho

Concertmaster Peter Hanson

On Monday, June 15th, at Sunset Center, with the Bach Festival well under way, audiences attended “Psycho!,” where Peter Hanson and his string orchestra played a wide variety of pieces: “Holberg Suite” by Edward Grieg, “Shaker Loops” by John Luther Adams, and after intermission, extracts from the soundtracks of PsychoDunkirkThe Deer Hunter,The Lord of the RingsSchindler‘s List, and an encore (which we’ll get to), as well as the famous Air on the G String by this festival’s namesake, Johann Sebastian Bach.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Baroque, Carmel Bach Festival, Strings

Pianist Sofya Gulyak’s Triumphant Return

Sofya Gulyak

Yesterday afternoon, by popular demand, the brilliant Russian-trained pianist Sofya Gulyak returned for a triumphant fifth recital appearance in central California. The event was jointly sponsored by Joseph Sekon’s Aptos Keyboard Series and the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist at 125 Canterbury Drive in Aptos.

Gulyak has won many prestigious piano competitions — among them first prize and the Princess Mary Gold Medal at the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition — the first woman to achieve this in the history of the competition. She has also won first prizes at the William Kapell International Piano Competition (USA), the Helsinki Maj Lind International Piano Competition, Tivoli Piano Competition (Copenhagen), Gyeongnam International Piano Competition (South Korea) and the Allegro vivo International Piano Competition (SanMarino).

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Baroque, Piano, Romantic Era