Martial Arts

by Gerald Carpenter

prokofiev.jpgSUMMER FARE: Too quickly, we arrive at the final three days of the Music Academy’s 2006 Summer Festival. As the last grains slip silently through the hourglass opening, there is still time for one more free Community Concert by the Academy Young Artists at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Thursday, August 10, 2 p.m.); still time for a master class from violist Donald McInnes in Lehmann Hall (Thursday, August 10, 2 p.m.) and one from trumpetmeister Paul Merkelo in Singher Studio (Friday, August 11, 1 p.m.), but the pedagogy wing of the Academy is definitely winding down.

Now, we come to one of those events that, while clearly connected to and produced by the Music Academy, does not seem to be quite of the same stuff as the rest of the summer’s offerings. I refer to Cabaret! A Sea of Shining Stars, which will take place on Friday, August 11, 5 p.m., at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort, under the capable direction of Don Pippin. The Academy Young Vocal Artists perform the academy’s annual gala benefit under the stars, in the rotunda. The musical fare is considerably lighter — Irving Berlin, this year — while the tariff is considerably heavier ($300) than the average, or even above average, festival event. Tony Award-winner Pippin will put his young singers through the likes of “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “Blue Skies,” Cheek to Cheek,” “Always,” and more. There will be cocktails before, with dinner served al fresco in the Plaza del Sol. Patron and sponsor tables are available (call 565-5921 for reservations).

Later that same evening, there will be a quintessential Summer Festival event, however: the Chamberfest, at 8 p.m. in the Lobero Theatre. The performers will be a rare and balanced blend of Academy Artist-Faculty and Academy Young Artists, in a “chamber music, season-ending celebration” featuring vocal, string, and percussion music of Igor Stravinsky, Antonín Dvorˇák, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Ludwig Beethoven.

THE END IS NIGH: All good things come to an end, and the better the thing, the harder the end. Yet, here we are, at the final concert of this truly spectacular 2006 Summer Festival at the Music Academy. Bolshoi Ballet conductor Pavel Klinichev will lead the glorious Festival Orchestra in an all-Russian program at the Lobero Theatre (Saturday, August 12, 8 p.m.). There will be three works performed: Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Festival Coronation March, his Capriccio Italien, Opus 45, and Serge Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Opus 100.

Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony, his masterpiece in the form, was written in 1944 — that is, at about the same time as Shostakovich’s equally masterful Piano Trio No. 2. The Soviets were now beating the Nazis pretty handily, though conditions in Western Russia were still horrendous (Eli Klimov’s harrowing “Come and See” paints a convincing picture of the Russian countryside during the invasion and occupation).

It was the first symphony Prokofiev composed since voluntarily returning to the Soviet Union 11 years before. Prior to composing the Fifth he was not thought of as a symphonist; he did not consider himself that way. He was a composer of ballets and concerti, and a virtuoso pianist. After the Fifth, he was in the major leagues, and the Sixth and Seventh, as well as his drastic revision of the Fourth, first composed in 1930, are all masterpieces of a very high order. What I think happened is that Prokofiev had figured out how to reshape the gorgeous music of his ballets (he had just finished Cinderella and was actively fiddling with Romeo and Juliet when he wrote the Fifth) so that it would fit into the Russian symphony form as perfected by Tchaikovsky, and used so powerfully by Rachmaninov and Shostakovich. Tickets for this and all Lobero events can be obtained from the Lobero box office at 963-0761. Tickets for all Music Academy events are available at 969‑8787.

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