Saturday, March 26, 2011

A look back at "NO"

Charles Lucke caught this moment of the Original universe Quartet playing Nielsen at the Pelican Gallery. A show of kids art was up and also very entertaining!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Plenty of "P"s!

The "P" concert is rapidly approaching!
It is Sunday, April 3, 4pm at Sonoma State. In Room 1028, which is the large rehearsal hall in the Music Education wing of the new Green Music Center. (the recital hall is not finished yet)

Marilyn Thompson, piano and Judiyaba, cello are on the faculty there and are being joined by friends in the SF Opera Orchestra. Rufus Olivier, bassoon and Zach Spellman, tuba will join Marilyn in a wonderful version of the Poulenc Trio (originally for piano, oboe, and bassoon...we're breaking with tradition here!) Leslie Ludena, violin and Marilyn and Judiyaba have unearthed a little known piano trio by Englishman Hubert Parry (1848-1918). The Prokofiev Sonata for Cello and Piano is a grand piece. And we couldn't have a "P" concert without some Piazzolla....yet another varied program!

If it's still raining......come anyway!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Other composers that are on the "ON" concert

Turlough O'Carolan is a name well known to Irish fiddlers and lovers of Celtic music. His music has staying power....he lived from 1670- 1738...and his tunes have never left the repertoire. An unusual start for a musician.....he became blind at age 18 from small pox, and as there was not much employment for blind people, he was taught harp and sent out to be a minstrel. It turned out to be his calling. He lived well traveling to the houses of the wealthy where he would be housed and fed in exchange for music and tunes honoring the landowners. He died at 68, a well known and respected musician. We will celebrate St. Patricks Day a few days late.....

Pietro Nardini (1722-1793) was a violinist and occasional composer. He wrote a few pleasing pieces.

Carl Nielsen is probably the best known composer on the program. But his work would not be described as "pleasing". Very interesting, very innovative, very unusual and very unpredictable could work. He was Danish and lived from 1865-1931. He attended Copenhagen Conservatory and started his career as a violinist, but composing was his calling. He loved Bach and trained well in counterpoint, but loved stretching the harmonic conventions that had been the norm.
Maybe he liked challenges....he married a sculptress who was determined to follow her career path rather than be a wifey, and sometimes left him with the 3 kids to go work at a different site. There were fights and separations but they were together until his death.
His music has become more accepted with the passing of time. The Symphonies are played regularly and the Wind Quintet is standard fare for that combination. The quartets are less known. This one in F Major, Opus 44, is a curious mix. The harmony does strange things and then will settle down and do something whimsical...or leave someone playing a pattern all alone. And there are lush full string moments that are thick and'll see.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Who has heard of George Onslow?

Actually the musicians and music lovers of the early 19th century would all have known of him and heard and played his music! He lived from 1784-1853 and was a well respected composer. His quartets were considered to be in the league of Haydn and Mozart. Mendelssohn and Schubert spoke highly of him and in fact Schubert's great C Major quintet was inspired by Onslow's quintets.
Though he had English parents (who left England after a scandal) he was born, lived and died in Clermont-Ferrand, France. He was devoted to chamber music, and much in demand as a composer during his lifetime and beyond but somehow his music became neglected after World War 1. He led a quiet life, with the exception of a hunting accident in 1829, in which he was shot in the head! He survived but expressed the trauma in his Quintet Opus 38. It is named "the Bullet". We dodged the bullet and are playing Quintet Opus 6 no,19 on the "ON" concert.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

the alphabet marches "ON"

On March 20, the Expanded Original Universe Quartet will play an all string program at the Pelican Gallery in Petaluma. Nielsen, Nardini, Onslow and O'Carolan will be the composers.
More on them soon, but first an explanation of the strange name of the group might be in order!
Many years ago 4 of us were invited to play on a cruise in Alaska. And the name of the ship was the Universe. It was wonderful fun and for several years after that we kept going on the cruise with slightly different combinations of players. So all of us played there, but our Original group was Mari, Joe, Betsy, and Yaba. Gwyneth joined the next year with a slightly different group. It was a wonderful time on a not too state-of-the-art boat that actually, after a few more years, was found totally unsafe and destroyed. I suppose bits of it are still floating around the universe.....