Tuesday, January 27, 2009

ArtsBuzz: Quartet, violinist heat up classical week

The Calder Quartet.

By Greg Stepanich

We're in the thick of the season, and there are a few events in the classical music world that deserve mention:

Calder Quartet: This Los Angeles-based string foursome -- violinists Benjamin Jackson and Andrew Bulbrook, violist Jonathan Moerschel and cellist Eric Byers --, fresh off an appearance with the band Airborne Toxic Event on The Late Show With David Letterman earlier this month, play the Duncan Theatre on Wednesday afternoon. In addition to two canonical masterworks, Mozart's String Quartet in C, K. 465, known as the Dissonant for its opening bars, and the first of the Rasumovsky quartets (in F, Op. 59, No. 1) of Beethoven, the Calder has programmed a piece by the British avant-garde guitarist and composer Fred Frith.

Now a composition professor at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., Frith wrote his String Quartet No. 1 in 1990 and called it Lelekovice, after the hometown of Czech violinist and performance artist Iva Bittova. The concert starts at 3 p.m. at the Duncan Theatre, Palm Beach Community College, Lake Worth. Tickets are $25. Call 868-3315 or visit www.pbcc.edu.

Jennifer Frautschi.

Jennifer Frautschi: The California-born violinist has received an Avery Fisher Career Grant and has won plaudits for her recordings of music by Stravinsky and Schoenberg. As part of her three-week tour with the Czech Symphony Orchestra, Frautschi plays the Mendelssohn Concerto (in E minor, Op. 64).

The orchestra, under the direction of Theodore Kuchar, will play the Dvorak Sixth Symphony (in D, Op. 60) and Smetana's most popular orchestral work, The Moldau. At 8 p.m. Wednesday, at the Society for the Four Arts, Palm Beach. Tickets: $35-$40. Call the society at 655-7226 or visit www.fourarts.org.

Palm Beach Atlantic International Piano Festival: The seven-day festival got under way today with master classes at the Christian school's campus in West Palm Beach; among the interesting sessions were those in the afternoon with Nelson Delle-Vigne Fabri and conductor Ramon Tebar, taking soloists for Friday's performances with the Palm Beach Symphony through their paces. This third annual festival includes daily master classes, four recitals (Wendesday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday) featuring pianists from the International Certificate for Piano Artists roster, and the Palm Beach Symphony concert Friday.

Recitals are $10 (call 803-2970 for tickets). Friday's concert, which features the Liszt Second Concerto (in A), the Beethoven Third (in C minor, Op. 37), the Variations Symphoniques of Cesar Franck and the Tragic Overture of Brahms, begins at 7:30 p.m at the DeSantis Family Chapel on the PBAU campus. Tickets are $45, and can be had by calling the orchestra box office at 607-6270. Master classes are free; check the Website each day for details.

Arthur Weisberg, 1931-2009.
(Courtesy Indiana University)

In memoriam: Arthur Weisberg, the celebrated American bassoonist and composer who also was a well-known advocate for new music nationally and here in South Florida, died Jan. 17 at his home in Boca Raton of pancreatic cancer. He was 77.

Weisberg was considered one of the finest bassoonists to ever tackle the instrument, and is revered by that community for his prowess as a player and the technical advances he brought to the bassoon. He was also busy throughout his life as a composer and conductor, and late last year donated the scores of the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble to the music school at Indiana University.

I talked to him several times over the years in connection with his compositions. After the premiere of his Fives for Five with the Florida Woodwind Quintet, he and I had a very good conversation about the nuts and bolts of how he wrote his music. I liked that piece, and I was happy to see it included on a disc of the same name released last year by Florida Atlantic University's Hoot/Wisdom label (here's the review I did last year on my Palm Beach Post blog).

I also heard the premiere of his Duo for Violin and Piano, premiered by violinist Saul Birtran and FAU music department chief Heather Coltman at Boca's Unitarian Universalist Fellowship last February (here's my review of that event). I always found him congenial to deal with, a fascinating person who was dedicated to the idea of new music, and I was very sorry to hear that he had gone.

Here is some information from the Double Reed Society about a memorial gathering that will be held Sunday in his honor.

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