Saturday, October 18, 2008

Chamber Music & an Organ Spectacular Make for a Busy Sunday

Sunday would be a busy day at Le Maison du Train if Dr. Dick could be three or more people in order to attend all the events scheduled throughout the day. And though friends have accused him of having multiple personalities, he hasn’t yet figured out how to get each of them to be in different places at basically the same times.

Unfortunately, one of the events has presumably been canceled though you wouldn’t know that from their web-site. If nothing else, this will make staff-assignments a little easier.

*** ***** ******** ***** ***

For me, the winner of the draw will be the violin recital of a friend of mine from way back. Carl Iba and pianist Randy Day will be performing in Schaefferstown, Lebanon County, part of the series of chamber music concerts at St. Luke Lutheran Church. While I’m looking forward to the music and the music-making, I’m also looking forward to the drive through the Central Pennsylvania countryside, taking the back highways which will pass through farmland and woods. For my readers outside the area – and one, living on DelMarVa, has said the fall colors were so much better during a recent excursion into south-eastern Pennsylvania (so apparently there’s more to the Mason-Dixon Line than just a state-of-mind) - the fall colors look like they are going to splendid this year.

Last month, I wrote about the first concert in the chamber music series Carl directs at the church, now in its 9th season (or is it nine seasons that he’s been running it?). Each season, Carl does a violin-and-piano recital. This year, there’s a Mozart sonata – a two-movement one in G Major, K.301 – plus lyrical favorites like the Meditation from Massenet’s Thaïs, one of the Gymnopedies by Erik Satie and Dvořák’s “Songs My Mother Taught Me” along with William Bolcom’s “Graceful Ghost Rag” (Halloween costume not required) and the Cszardas by Vittorio Monti, a virtuosic impression of a Gypsy dance in the style of the great Gypsy violinists of the 19th Century, the kind that inspired Brahms and also the Hungarian-born Franz Liszt. They’re also playing the 1st Rhapsody by Bela Bartok which is based on some real Hungarian folk-dances in a more ethnically correct approach to the style than Liszt’s famous Hungarian Rhapsodies of the previous century.

Liszt and Brahms - in fact, practically anybody in the 19th Century who was writing in the “Hungarian Style” – used themes by Gypsy musicians in a style usually referred to as “a la zingarese” which correctly translates as “Gypsy,” not Hungarian. This isn’t really folk music, more a kind of urban popular music. Brahms made frequent trips to famous restaurants in Vienna where he’d go to listen to his favorite Gypsy bands play, much the way people in the 20th Century would go to smoky bars to hear jazz and blues.

It wasn’t until Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly in the early 20th Century started collecting actual folk-songs gathered out in the remote countryside of Hungary that the true folk-music came to light in the wider, more serious world of classical music, generations after the folk music of Bohemia or Russia were being incorporated into the nationalistic voices of composers like Dvořák or Rimsky-Korsakov. Bartok’s rhapsody is based on two dances, basically used in recruiting young men into the military (imagine that working today) – the first one is a slow dance, and the second one fast, nothing terribly complicated about that. When I was teaching at UConn, a colleague of mine, violinist Teddy Arm, said to me after we listened to a recording of the Bartok 1st Rhapsody, “now, that’s down-home music – if you’re Hungarian.”

Also on the program is a sonatina (or “little sonata”) by the Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu whose music may not be all that well known these days, which is a pity. He’s very tuneful and often light and airy, unlike a lot of music being written in the first half of the 20th Century. Carl played some of the “Madrigals” Martinu wrote for violin and other instruments – there’s a bunch with piano and some with viola, and I think he did the viola set a few seasons ago. By the way, Martinu’s Oboe Concerto is on the program with the Harrisburg Symphony and the orchestra’s principal oboist, Alicia Chapman on November 8th & 9th.

*** ***** ******** ***** ***

One of the other programs scheduled for the same afternoon is a program at the State Street Academy in Harrisburg, just down from the Capitol building, featuring the school’s director, cellist Daniel Gaisford, playing the two solo cello sonatas by Michael Hersch. Though the web-site hasn’t been up-dated to reflect recent changes, for whatever reason – and there are a number of questions out there about all this – Daniel told me on October 9th that he had resigned as the academy’s director (effective immediately) and, in subsequent e-mail, that the entire Sunday series of recitals has been canceled. I have no idea what’s going on with the school right now but hopefully things will be straightened out soon: I assume otherwise it’s business as usual. But it would seem fairly unlikely anyone showing up at 4:00 on Sunday is not going to hear music by Michael Hersch played by Daniel Gaisford, whether they substitute another program or not.

*** ***** ******** ***** ***

Sunday is also Organ Spectacular Day, an international event celebrating The King of Instruments in this “International Year of the Organ” with recitals being held on October 19th around the world. Here, Central Pennsylvania will be reverberating with four churches holding programs. They’re not designed to be a “progressive recital” where everybody could pack up from one before moving on to the next, but it would be possible to take in more than just one, not to mention taking advantage of lower gas prices, too. Since they’re scheduled every two hours, I suppose if the programs were kept between an hour and 90 minutes, that would allow some travel time from one to the other.

The celebration begins at 2:00 in Carlisle at the Second Presbyterian Church, 58 Garland Drive where various area organists will be performing.

At 4:00, David Binkley will inaugurate the new Schantz Pipe Organ at Camp Hill Presbyterian Church, 101 N. 23rd Street in Camp Hill, with a special dedication concert.

Then at 6:00, Eric Riley offers a program at Market Square Presbyterian Church in downtown Harrisburg.

The series concludes at 8:00 when various organists will perform at Derry Presbyterian Church, 248 East Derry Rd in Hershey where Helen Anthony will play a new piece, “Ornaments of Grace,” commissioned especially for this event (the composer’s name not credited on the web-site announcement). The program also feature Sally Cummings and organ duets performed by Shawn Gingrich and William Curry.

Like the Chamber Music at St. Luke program in Schaefferstown, these organ recitals are all “free-will offerings,” no tickets required.

So, certainly enough music to go around on Sunday, whether or not there is enough of you to take them all in. At least the day will be a crisp and sunny fall day even if, musically speaking, when it rains, it pours.

No comments:

Post a Comment