CBF Chamber Concert: “Le Mozart Noir” in Paris

Portrait c. 1787 of composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), dubbed “Le Mozart Noir”

On July 21 the Carmel Bach Festival Chamber Concert, Mozart in Paris at 2:30 pm at All Saints Church, introduced many of us to an intriguing classical composer about whom we had never heard, known as Le Mozart Noir. From the program notes written by Allan Whear, found on page 170 of the 2017 CBF program book, “Saint-Georges is without a doubt one of the most fascinating characters in music history, worthy of a romantic novel or Hollywood screenplay. Born on the Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe, he was the son of a Senegalese slave [Nanon], and a French plantation owner. His father, *George Bologne de Saint-Georges, became wealthy raising sugar cane in the New World, and returned to Paris [with his son and Nanon] to become a minor aristocrat.” Saint-Georges was brought up as a gentleman in Paris and received musical training in violin and composition.As a young man, he led orchestras, published a body of instrumental and vocal works, and premiered his own compositions while becoming quite well-known in musical and aristocratic circles. “He also excelled at fencing, becoming known as the finest swordsman in France.” The most famous image of Saint-Georges is a dashing portrait of the composer portrayed with a sword, painted in 1787 by Mather Brown. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Baroque, Chamber music, Classical Era


Roller-Coaster Strings: [email protected]’s Final Concert

The finely-honed [email protected] summer series concluded Saturday evening, August 5, with “National Flavors,” a highly diverse and musically challenging array of compositions whose scale and intensity, while varied, did not lack for stylistic panache and gorgeous showmanship. A thoroughly enthusiastic audience graced the Center for Performing Arts at Menlo-Atherton, eager to experience the culmination of the fifteenth anniversary season which had assiduously celebrated “The Glorious Violin.”

Violinist Danbi Um and cellist Nicholas Canellakis intiated the proceedings with Bohuslav Martinu’s 1927 Duo No. 1, a two-movement work that exploits the tonal range of the respective instruments, set in a modal, angular syntax enriched by multiple stopping on the strings. The first movement Praeludium: Andante moderato had Danbi and Canellakis share the melodic tissue and shuttle into improvisation until the calm atmosphere returned at movement’ end. The piece indulged Martinu’s Parisian sense of Jazz in striking syncopations that led to cellist Canellakis’ extended solo, which rather lit up our ears. The lyric appeal of this music had us in thrall when violinist Um joined in for a mad dash to the gratifying finale. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Chamber music, Strings


CBF – Foyer Concert: Ancient Airs for Lute

Daniel Swenberg shows off lute to curious on-lookers

“The Ancient Airs for Lute” Foyer Concert on July 20 at Sunset Center was sold-out, which gives one a dim hope for returning to a three-week Festival again. Daniel Swenberg started off the program and sat at the base of the foyer stairs, just in front of Sunset Center’s distinctive peaked arches, framing his person and instrument. After the first and second pieces, he addressed the audience and pointed out that this particular program, in its entirety, would not have been heard all at one time, nor would it have been done on only one instrument; performers would have used, perhaps, four different instruments in the lute family. However, due to flight and cost restrictions, Mr. Swenberg only brought to the Festival his theorbo (for which he bought a seat on the plane), and his ten-string lute. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Baroque, Carmel Bach Festival, Chamber music


Carmel Bach Festival Chamber Concert: Birth of the Italian Baroque

Dongsok Shin, Estelí Gomez, Daniel Swenberg, Molly Quin,

Dominic Teresi, Adriane Post, Johanna Novom

The “­Birth of the Italian Baroque” Chamber Concert on Wednesday, July 19, at All Saints Church in Carmel, was an ingenious programming of six Monteverdi vocal pieces interspersed with six Italian early baroque instrumental pieces by other composers. From start to finish, this was a first-rate program. There was something about this concert, above and beyond, that hit all the benchmarks of cohesive musical programming and execution. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Baroque, Carmel Bach Festival, Chamber music


Deutsche Marks — German Virtuosity at Menlo

The Saturday July 22 Concert Program III at [email protected], “German Virtuosity,” transported the Italian violin tradition from Cremona northward, as deftly demonstrated in five elegantly performed works at the Menlo-Atherton’s Center for Performing Arts. Works by Rode, Beethoven, Spohr, David, and Mendelssohn graced a felicitous program that took Beethoven’s last sonata as a point of departure for the violin’s emergence into a burgeoning Romantic tradition in which the instrument would soar in expressive range and scale. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Chamber music, Classical Era, Romantic Era