Scott MacClelland has written on music and, in Monterey County, taught on the subject for more than three decades.
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Festival namesake Johann Sebastian Bach constitutes roughly 18 percent of the current Carmel Bach Festival’s total programs, now spanning just over two weeks, down from three weeks over the last several years. By a careful selection of one “Main” concert and several recitals, the intrepid Bach-hound will find two harpsichord concertos, one violin concerto, “Brandenburg” Concerto No.
Bach's Mass in B Minor can be a work of grandeur, just as it can be a miscellany of movements gathered from various of his cantatas with the original words replaced by those of the Latin Mass. Either, and even more possibilities, can readily be justified, or at least rationalized. The sprawling work opened the 71st season of the Carmel Bach Festival Saturday night at Carmel's Sunset Center with Music Director Bruno Weil conducting the orchestra, a Festival Chorale of 28 voices, and a solo vocal quartet.
For a change, a Handel oratorio other than Messiah sounded seasonally sweet at UC Santa Cruz — with an added performance in San Francisco — this past weekend. Jephtha, the composer’s last major work, flowered into a satisfying evening in Nicole Paiement’s first production of the work since she studied it with acclaimed conductor John Elliot Gardiner years ago.
Even though it revolves around a love triangle, Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther would not have appealed to Verdi because of its lack of a higher moral or sociopolitical conflict. But for Jules Massenet, making a stage work of such a personal, barely dramatic dilemma was just his musical meat. Massenet's Werther, heard and seen Sunday afternoon at San Jose's California Theatre, gives Opera San José a new high-water mark.
An institutional rarity, the Ives String Quartet is its own nonprofit corporation, and produces its own "Home Series" Bay Area season of concerts. Currently, these include three programs played twice, at St. Mark's Church in Palo Alto and at Le Petit Trianon Theatre in San Jose. The paid staff are the musicians themselves, answerable to a volunteer board of directors.
Making her debut with Opera San José last Sunday afternoon, Khori Dastoor dominated the stage in the coloratura title role of Lucia di Lammermoor, blazing through her shrewdly conceived mad scene with theatrical abandon and scenery-chewing panache. If Dastoor joined the company to gain stage experience — the stated mission of OSJ — then her colleagues can expect to learn even more from her.
Choral directors who tackle Gesualdo’s Tenebrae Responses do so at their own peril. Andrew Megill went out on that limb to introduce himself to the Carmel Bach Festival, and, no doubt, to put his colleagues everywhere on notice that he’s prepared to play for high stakes.
In a program titled "From Darkness to Light," Megill, the festival’s new associate conductor, directed his youthful 24-voice Festival Chorale three times at Carmel Mission, and once in memory of the late Sandor Salgo at Stanford Memorial Church, between mid-July and August 1.
Sunday's matinee performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, a feature of the 70th anniversary season of the Carmel Bach Festival, memorialized Sandor Salgo. In doing so, Music Director Bruno Weil demonstrated a lack of insight into the great work's dramatic arch — the very insight Salgo was famous for during his long tenure at this festival's helm.