The Thoughtful Muse: A Recital by Pianist Daria Rabotkina

Daria Rabotkina

In a letter to me some years ago, composer Morton Gould remarked that writing a new composition lay “fraught with danger — that of being judged less on its own merits than by an amalgam of its influences.” Such might have been the case for pianist Daria Rabotkina’s performance of the Sonata in B-flat Minor (1975) of American composer Paul Aurandt, given Sunday, February 9 at the Hammer Theatre, in San Jose under the auspices of the Steinway Society the Bay Area. Certainly, Aurandt follows Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto in its dramatic, if Hollywood-compressed, attempt to imitate the grand Russian style. Yet Ms. Rabotkina’s sincerity and singular keyboard prowess managed to convince us that this bravura essay in Neo-Romantic temperament had moments of singular merit. 

Read full story
Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Classical Era, Piano

Stravinsky – Music & Dance in Miami

Violinist James Ehnes

On Friday January 31, 2020, the New World Symphony and Miami City Ballet presented a fascinating program of Stravinsky and Balanchine at the New World Center on Miami Beach to a capacity audience. The program was conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas and the soloist in the Stravinsky Violin Concerto was James Ehnes, one of the greatest violinists of our time.

To accommodate the dancers on the the stage, players of the entire orchestra were seated in the seats of the lower level facing the stage where the audience usually sits.

The program opened with Stravinsky’s Apollo (written in 1927-28 and revised in 1947), with choreography by Balanchine and performed by the Miami City Ballet, an internationally acclaimed ballet company under Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez

The second half of the program opened with Stravinsky’s Circus Polka (1942-44) with Animations by Emily Eckstein (commissioned by the  NWS
in 2012). The visual animations in which the ringmaster was repeatedly deterred by a “lazy, hungry elephant” were projected on the hall’s three huge screens.

The concluding work was the Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1931) as
choreographed by Balanchine and performed brilliantly by violinist James Ehnes with the New World Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.

Altogether an unforgettable evening !


Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Dance, Orchestral

Heavy Stuff – A Recital by Vladimir Feltsman

Vladimir Feltsman

In an epigram by Lord Bacon, cited by Edgar Allan Poe, we read, “There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in its proportions.”  So we must recall the Wednesday, February 5 piano recital by Vladimir Feltsman at Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall, “The Russian Experiment: From Mystical to Avant-Garde” that addressed the music of Aleksandr Scriabin and his selected acolytes. Feltsman took his rubric from the critic Brodsky, justifying these musical dissidents with the notion that “Darkness reveals what light can conceal.” Sparsely attended though it was, the recital – admittedly for those with acquired tastes – aroused unmitigated favor in the audience, who by the end of the tour of five composers had to acknowledge the alternately poetic and blazing prowess of our guest artist. Feltsman performed his massive program sans intermission.

Read full story
Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Piano

Chamber Music Monterey Bay presents the Horszowski Trio

Horszowski Trio

How do you enjoy the rare warm velvet night of a Carmel winter? An evening by a fire? A walk along the shore? How about entering the soft light of a concert hall for a chamber music concert? I enjoyed an evening at Sunset Center listening to the Horszowski Trio on Saturday, February 1, 2020. The members of this ensemble: Jesse Mills, violin, Raman Ramakrishnan, cello, and Rieko Aizawa, piano presented three compositions. For the final piece, they welcomed guest violinist Aaron Boyd. In his pre-concert talk, Kai Christiansen mentioned the contrasts in the compositions. I did hear the contrasts, and I also heard an ensemble of master musicians play some fabulous music.

Read full story
Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Chamber Music Monterey Bay

Music at CSUMB – Meet a new Faculty Member

Jeff Jones

Meet Jeff Jones. He is a newcomer who arrived last August to join the faculty of California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB). If you want to know something about his background, here is his CV.

Jeffrey A. Jones holds a Ph.D. in musicology with an emphasis in ethnomusicology from Florida State University, an M.M. in percussion performance from Appalachian State University, and a B.M. in percussion performance and music education from Appalachian State University. He is currently Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Chair of Music and Performing Arts at California State University Monterey Bay. His research on music and community development through the arts, Afro-Caribbean music, applied ethnomusicology, and world music ensemble pedagogy has been published in a variety of media and he has presented papers at regional, national, and international conferences. Dr. Jones’s work as a composer and arranger has been featured in theatrical productions and concerts throughout the United States as well as Japan, Russia, Trinidad, and Australia. As a percussionist he has performed throughout the United States and internationally with a diverse group of artists and ensembles, including Skiffle Steel Orchestra, III MEF U.S. Marine Corps Field Band, and blues artists Thomas “Guitar” Gable, Dr. Dixon, and Charlie Bristol.

Read full story
Archived in these categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Jazz