Return of the Native
by Jan Jezioro
For reasons that remain remarkably obscure, in the 19th century the date Friday the 13th acquired the unenviable reputation, in certain quarters, of being the most unlucky day in the calendar. The superstition surrounding the number 13 has even earned its own name, triskaidekaphobia, perhaps not in the DRG Psychological Handbook, but at least in the affections of spelling-bee question setters everywhere, as a reliable hazardous trip-wire to contestants.
Former BPO concertmaster Charles Haupt, and his wife, photographer Irene Haupt, are the founders of the remarkably eclectic classical music series known as A Musical Feast. Neither Charles nor Irene can be suffering from triskaidekaphobia, since they had no qualms whatsoever about scheduling the last concert of their current season on Friday, April 13 at 8pm, in the series’s home in the acoustically superior, audience friendly Peter & Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium of the Burchfield Penny Art Center.
Of course, the Haupts may have hedged their bets just a little, since they invited flutist Carol Wincenc, one of the finest musicians ever born and raised in Buffalo, as a special guest for their concert, along with some other favorite performers in the series. Besides her active career as a nationally touring soloist, Wincenc, who celebrated her 40th anniversary as a performer in 2009, is a professor of flute at both the Juilliard School of Music and at Stony Brook University. Co-sponsored by the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music of the University at Buffalo, the imaginatively programmed concert will include works by a pair of the best known composers of music in the 20th century, Igor Stravinsky and Bohuslav Martinu, as well as works by contemporary composers David Finko and Paul Schoenfeld.
The prolific Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu spent much of his career abroad, particularly in France and America, but his works very often contain elements of his native folk music, as well as American jazz, as seen through a distinctly European filter. Carol Wincenc will be joined by UB based cellist Jonathan Golove and Buffalo’s favorite pianist, Claudia Hoca, in Bohuslav Martinu’s lively Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano, H.300. Martinu composed this trio in 1944, while living in Ridgefield, Connecticut, having barely managed to escape from Paris during the German invasion—a genuinely life-saving flight, as he had been blacklisted by the Nazi’s for his connections to the Czech resistance. The delightful music, while devoid of any connection to the somber events of the time in which it was composed, reflects the composer’s familiarity with French music of the 1920s, including that of his longtime teacher Albert Roussel, as well as that of Maurice Ravel.
Igor Stravinsky composed his sole violin concerto for the American violinist Samuel Dushkin in 1931. When Stravinsky and Dushkin started touring together in1932, Stravinsky composed the Duo Concertante, written for violin and piano, for use in their recital programs. Stravinsky gave the five movements of the neoclassical work titles that evoke the musical forms and idioms of antique times, including the songlike “cantilena,” the pastoral “eclogue”, and the dancelike “gigue.” The final, tragic “dithyramb” movement has been described as “the most lyrically beautiful music Stravinsky ever wrote.”
Violinist Charles Castleman, professor of violin at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, is well known to Buffalo classical music audiences through his frequent performances of some of the most challenging violin pieces in the repertoire. He will be joined by pianist Claudia Hoca for this performance of the Duo Concertante.
Castleman will also perform the virtuosic Lamentations of Jeremiah, written for violin solo by the Russian émigré composer David Finko. Before he immigrated to America in 1979, Finko’s day job, amazingly enough, was working as a naval architect in the former Soviet Union, designing nuclear submarines.
The contemporary American composer Paul Schoenfield, born in 1947, achieved remarkable popular success with his immediately accessible 1986 chamber work, Café Music, a piece that has enjoyed numerous live performances, including a pair on previous A Musical Feast programs, as well as innumerable airplays on public radio stations. Among the many works that Schoenfield has composed since, one of the most engaging is his 2010 work, Six Chassidic Songs, for flute and piano. Pianist Claudia Hoca will join flutist Carol Wincenc for a performance of the piece, with a highlight being the raucous “Kozatzke” Cossack dance movement.
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