Santa Barbara Music Club

Beethoven meets Ragtime

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Saturday, October 24, 2015
3:00 pm

Faulkner Gallery

Program Summary

  • Beethoven: Sonata Op. 28
    Eric Valinsky, piano
  • Mozart: Concerto in C major, K. 314
    Adelle Rodkey, oboe
    Mandee Sikich, piano
  • Eric Valinsky: Rag
    Played by the composer

Notes on the Program

by Betty Oberacker

One of the highlights of Santa Barbara Music Club’s concerts is the opportunity for audiences to hear great music from a variety of historical periods, with a diversity of musical forms, performed by excellent artists. This concert features two works from the classical era, by Beethoven and Mozart, and a ragtime-inspired composition by a Santa Barbara pianist-composer.

The program opens with pianist Eric Valinsky performing the Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 (“Pastoral”), of Ludwig van Beethoven. The nickname “Pastoral” was appended to this marvelous work not by the composer but by his publisher, akin to the titles “Moonlight” for Op. 27, No. 2 or “Tempest” for Op. 31, No. 2 (indeed, Beethoven’s publishers tended to name his sonatas without consulting Beethoven himself!).

In this case as well, the adjective is most befitting the sonata’s atmosphere of bucolic calm, simplicity and lightness of character. A remarkable feature of this composition is that each of the four movements – Allegro, Andante, Scherzo: Allegro assai, and Rondo: Allegro, ma non troppo – establishes its own insistent, pulsating rhythm at its very outset, setting the tone for the composer’s uniquely fresh and often startling development of its musical ideas. In fact, Mr. Valinsky cites the tonal playfulness of the final movement as follows: “Thus, despite the overwhelming beauty of this piece, we are given a healthy serving of Beethoven’s whimsy.”

Next, oboist Adelle Rodkey and pianist Mandee Sikich interpret the sparkling Concerto in C major, K. 314, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart when he was just 21 years old. One of the most important concerti in the oboe repertoire, it was composed in 1777 for Giuseppe Ferlendis, celebrated Italian oboist and composer who was appointed to the Court Chapel of Salzburg – at a yearly stipend higher than that accorded Mozart. The work is in three melodious movements, each expressive, charming, and perfectly idiomatic: the Allegro aperto being spritely and generously paced, the Adagio non troppo suggestive of an eloquent opera aria, and the Rondo: Allegretto quite the “preview” of the composer’s future opera overtures. The concerto was later re-worked by Mozart as his Flute Concerto in D major.

Concluding the program, Pianist Eric Valinsky returns to present one of his own compositions: Rag, written in New York City in 1994. The work was composed in conjunction with a dance being choreographed by his wife, Carrie Diamond. In the composer’s words, “… this piece attempts to recreate a gracious piano rag of the turn of the 20th century, but only serves to evoke snatches of a nostalgic past. By some stretch of the imagination, the piece is actually in rag form, but the unsettled first section doesn’t bode well and things quickly get out of control and eventually devolve into chaos. The coda, a return to the first section, serves as a reminder of what might have been.”