Gerald Carpenter: Camerata’s November program mixes percussion and piano, romantic and contemporary | Culture & Leisure
At their November concerts, Camerata Pacifica lead percussionist Ji Hye Jung teams up with pianist Soyeon Kate Lee to present a 21st century program with romantic interludes. Together or solo, the duo will perform:
“How Sweet to Think of You as Infinite” by Emma O’Halloran (2019); “Gustave Le Gray” by Caroline Shaw (2012); “Corelli Variations” by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1931); “Velocities (Moto Perpetuo) for solo marimba” by Joseph Schwantner (1990); “Mazurka in A minor, Opus 17, No. 4” by Frédéric Chopin (1833) and “Double happiness” by Christopher Cerrone (2012).
O’Halloran is a contemporary Irish composer of great and subtle gifts. His music strikes no poses and makes no case; it is simply. On top of that, “How Sweet the Thought of You as Infinite” is a lovely title (for a beautiful piece).
Shaw’s “Gustave Le Gray” continues its irresistible progression towards the center of the small group of young composers whose music will still be heard in 10 or 20 years. So far, its variety has proven to be almost endless.
One day I may know enough of her work to be able to hear a new piece and say, “Ah, Caroline Shaw! but she will always be able to surprise me.
Rachmaninoff composed the “Corelli Variations” – his last work for solo piano – in 1931, and dedicated the composition to his friend, the violinist Fritz Kreisler. In December of that year he wrote to another friend, the composer Nikolai Medtner:
“I played the Variations about fifteen times, but out of those fifteen interpretations, only one was good. The others were sloppy. I can’t play my own compositions! And it’s so boring! I was guided by the cough of the public.
“Each time the cough increased, I skipped the next variation. Whenever there was no cough, I played them in the correct order. In a concert, I don’t remember where – in a small town – the cough was so violent that I only played ten variations (out of 20).
“My best record was set in New York, where I played 18 variations. However, I hope you play them all and don’t ‘cough’.”
Although the theme is from Arcangelo Corelli’s “Violin Sonata and Continuo in D Minor, Opus 5, No. 12”, the theme itself was not written by Corelli, but is the melody of a typical Spanish dance called “La Folia”.
Many 17th-century composers wrote variations on it, including Marin-Marais and Henry Purcell. Later, Franz Liszt used it in his “Spanish Rhapsody”. Much, much later, in 1982, the Spanish composer Eduardo Paniagua wrote a set of 12… not exactly variations, but simply variants, in his piece “La Folia de la Spagna”.
In James Ivory’s film, “Jefferson in Paris”, Jefferson (Nick Nolte) keeps trying to play Corelli on his violin.
Schwantner’s “Velocities” aptly bears the subtitle “(Molto Perpetuo)”, as it moves forward in a pleasant, haphazard manner, seemingly hitting all the notes the marimba is capable of, without the composer ever losing the control.
Chopin remains Chopin, his “Mazurka” is as appropriate to this program as it would be to any program, anywhere, by the end of time.
Cerrone’s “Double Happiness” is formal and precise, adagio in spirit, even when it seems to pick up speed. The music carries us along, even if it does not move forward.
This program will be played at 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 13 at the Ventura County Museum in Ventura; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 15 at the Huntington Museum in San Marino; 8 p.m. Thursday, November 17 at Zipper Hall at Colburn School in Los Angeles; and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 18, in the Fleischmann Room at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (while the Hahn Room is being renovated).
Admission to all sites is $68. For tickets and other information, go to the box office, call Camerata Pacifica at 805-884-8410, email [email protected], or visit www.cameratapacifica.org.
Masks and proof of full and booster vaccinations are required at all Camerata Pacifica concerts.
– Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk Contributing Writer. He can be contacted at [email protected] The opinions expressed are his own.