Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Sacramento Music

I have recently attended a couple of concerts in Sacramento by groups I have not seen before.  It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to get out of town, so I am trying to know more about the place where I live.

Carlos & Brennen are a duo consisting of Brennen Milton on clarinet and Carlos M. Fuentes on piano.  For their recent concert at Crocker Art Museum they added soprano Robin Fisher.  Concerts at Crocker involve associating the repertoire to the current exhibits which in this case are landscapes.  When instrumental groups add a singer, they must track down repertoire for this specific combination.  So they needed pieces for clarinet, piano and soprano which illustrate the outdoors. For this concert we heard:

O Lady Moon by Alan Hovhaness, an American composer.  In this piece a cat and a rat are carrying a barrel of sake over Mount Fuji.

Coty by Quincy Hilliard, from Mississippi.  Daybreak, Sunset, Dance.  This is for only clarinet and piano.  The composer said it reminded him of his home.

Hirtenlied by Giacomo Meyerbeer.  Meyerbeer is most famous as a French opera composer, but this song is in German and translates to Shepherd Song.  The whole trio perform.  Again we are outdoors.

Three Vocalises by Ralph Vaughn Williams.  Prelude, Scherzo, Quasi menuetto.  This features only the soprano and clarinet and has no words.

Silentium Amoris by Carlos McMillan Fuentes, our pianist.  Seduction, Infatuation, Silentium Amoris.  The first two movements are instrumental and the third is the full trio on a poem by Oscar Wilde.

I very much enjoyed the variety of repertoire in this concert.  I'm always ready for something new.  Our clarinetist played from a score on a tablet (iPad?) with a foot pedal to turn pages.  I have a complaint:  they provided a sheet with English texts but did not provide sufficient light to be able to read it.  AND they specifically requested that people not use flashlights.

Sinfonia Spirituosa, a new group directed by Lorna Peters, harpsichord, performed at Clara.  This concert while all from the Baroque, was also varied.

Six movements from the Suite "La Bizarre" by Georg Philipp Telemann.  Overture, Gavotte en Rondeau, Sarabande, Fantasie, Minuet I and II, Rossignol.

Passamezzo and Gagliarda for Two Violins and Continuo by Johann Vierdanck.  I had never heard of this composer, but he was a student of Heinrich Schütz and died young.  For continuo we expected the usual cello and harpsichord, but got only the cello part.  This was very pleasing.

Chaconne in G Minor by Henry Purcell for the full ensemble.  The members of the ensemble varied quite a lot.  Then suddenly came "Curtain Tune on a Ground" from Timon of Athens.  Our version was very uptempo and jazzy sounding.  "Where am I?"  I love Henry Purcell best.

From the tragedie lyrique "Les Boreades" by Jean-Philippe Rameau.  Entree de Polimnie, Gavotte pour les heures et les zephirs, Minuet I and II, Contredanse en rondeau.

Sinfonia Spirituosa in D Major by Telemann.  Spirituoso, Largo, Vivace.  This is the group's theme music.

They are new and in only their second season.  It interests me how much is going on in the provincial city of Sacramento.  I wish them good luck.  If I have a complaint, it is the constant tuning.  This may be necessary with period instruments.

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