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REVIEW: Hoffman family visits SummerFest Sunday

UT San Diego
By James Chute
August 19, 2012

If SummerFest truly wanted to maker Sunday’s concert a Hoffman “Family Affair,” it could have had cellist Gary, violist Toby, and their baby sister, harpist Deborah, perform music by their oldest brother, composer Joel Hoffman.

But the three younger Hoffmans, and a few friends and new acquaintances, made do with Mozart, Bruch, Lutoslawski, Caplet, Saint-Saëns and Fauré.

Every piece on the easy-on-the-ears program at Sherwood Auditorium had at least one Hoffman, most had two, and the opening Adagio and Rondo in C Minor by Mozart had three. The entire program, but especially the Mozart, was a study in chemistry and musical relationships.

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REVIEW: Hoffman family visits SummerFest Sunday 2014-01-27T10:57:27+00:00

REVIEW: Ralske-Jaber team shines at SummerFest

UT San Diego
By James Chute
August 17, 2012

Erik Ralske and Benjamin Jaber are used to working without a net. As principal French horns of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the San Diego Symphony, respectively, they routinely perform the seemingly impossible high-wire antics symphonic composers demand of this challenging instrument.

But at SummerFest Friday, Ralske, the old hand, and Jaber, the young gun, were particularly at risk in Beethoven’s Sextet in E-flat Major for Two Horns and String Quartet.

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REVIEW: Ralske-Jaber team shines at SummerFest 2014-01-22T11:38:15+00:00

REVIEW: Tan Duns Water Passion wows SummerFest audience

La Jolla Light
By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt
August 17, 2012

On Saturday night, Aug. 4, a crowd of SummerFest music-lovers gathered at the La Jolla Playhouse to experience a multimedia oratorio written by Chinese composer Tan Dun to commemorate the 250th anniversary of J.S. Bach’s death.

Both aurally and visually stunning, “Water Passion After St. Matthew” began with soft, otherworldly sounds and lighting, and ended with the whispered word “silence,” a slow parade of performers dipping into a cascade of gold-lit, amplified water bowls, and then – silence, a rare minute of total silence in the theater before the roar of applause.

Tan Dun, based in New York, was raised in a village in Hunan, trained in the theatrical traditions of Chinese opera, and is best-known for his Oscar-winning score for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Since childhood, he has been fascinated by water and the natural music it makes.

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REVIEW: Tan Duns Water Passion wows SummerFest audience 2014-01-27T10:56:47+00:00

REVIEW: Igudesman & Joo offer A Little Nightmare Music at SummerFest

UT San Diego
By James Chute
August 16, 2012

As Igudesman & Joo demonstrated Wednesday night at SummerFest, spoofing classical music is hard work – an arduous, demanding task not for the faint hearted.

It requires nerves of steel, an ability to memorize a substantial array of musical excerpts, split-second timing, a complete lack of self-consciousness (some might say shame), and loose limbs, helpful for when your hips start to wiggle while playing the violin or your hands start to ache when playing the piano (while flat on your back).

La Jolla Music Society SummerFest music director Cho-Liang Lin apparently believed this year’s festival needed a little relief from serious classical fare.

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REVIEW: Igudesman & Joo offer A Little Nightmare Music at SummerFest 2014-01-27T10:56:05+00:00

REVIEW: SummerFest concert a study in the joy of chamber music

UT San Diego
By James Chute
August 15, 2012

Good things happen when clarinetist John Bruce Yeh is on stage, with the Calder Quartet was at the center of last weekend’s illuminating performance of Aaron Jay Kernis’ new “Perpetual Chaconne” at SummerFest. Tuesday, he was back at SummerFest in the second of three Schubert programs at Sherwood Auditorium.

This time, Yeh’s assignment was something written nearly 200 years earlier, Schubert’s “Der Hirt auf dem Felsen,” the “Shepherd on the Rock,” Schubert’s last and one of his best known songs.

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REVIEW: SummerFest concert a study in the joy of chamber music 2014-01-27T10:57:07+00:00

REVIEW: Elgar energizes Tokyo String Quartet at SummerFest

UT San Diego
By James Chute
August 12, 2012

Throughout the Tokyo String Quartet’s performances of Schubert last Tuesday and Haydn and Beethoven on Sunday, violist Kazuhide Isomura was all but invisible. The ensemble’s only founding member sat nearly motionless, his sound indistinguishable from the sound of the ensemble.

But on the second half of Sunday’s La Jolla Music Society SummerFest program at Sherwood Auditorium, Elgar’s Piano Quintet in A Minor suddenly prompted Kazuhide’s full engagement. Elgar is not about to let the violist off the hook, and in melody after melody, particularly in the second movement, Kazuhide’s distinctive sound and lyrical playing was a revelation.

Given that this fabled ensemble is disbanding next year, and this is its final appearance in San Diego, Isomura’s emergence came just in time.

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REVIEW: Elgar energizes Tokyo String Quartet at SummerFest 2014-01-27T10:55:33+00:00

REVIEW: A good day for Aaron Jay Kernis at SummerFest

UT San Diego
By James Chute
August 10, 2012

As Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis explained from the Sherwood Auditorium stage Friday, he was having a very good month.

His newest piece, “Perpetual Chaconne,” had been premiered at Chamber Music Northwest two weeks earlier. Now it was about to be played at the La Jolla Music Society SummerFest and was scheduled for another performance this week at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

But after clarinetist John Bruce Yeh and the Calder Quartet finished with Kernis’ 18-minute piece Friday, you had to believe that Kernis’ month got even better.

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REVIEW: A good day for Aaron Jay Kernis at SummerFest 2014-01-22T11:40:43+00:00

REVIEW: Jazz Duo Wins Olympic Gold

San Diego Story
By Ken Herman
August 9, 2012

If you were searching for a convincing demonstration of that overused adage “less is more,” I would suggest a jazz performance by the exquisite duo of Branford Marsalis and Eric Revis. SummerFest 2012 presented the renowned saxophonist and bassist Wednesday (Aug. 8) on the second half of a program that opened with three pleasant but inconsequential chamber music pieces that featured saxophone.

Of course, Marsalis’ classical technique is so refined and fluent that any serious listener is charmed, perhaps even mesmerized, by his sinuous melodic turns. Indeed, he graced the tunes of four short pieces by Samuel Barber arranged for piano and soprano saxophone with gentle undulations that gave off an iridescent sheen.

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REVIEW: Jazz Duo Wins Olympic Gold 2014-01-22T11:55:09+00:00

REVIEW: Branford Marsalis shows no fear at SummerFest

UT San Diego
By James Chute
August 9, 2012

You have to give Branford Marsalis credit: he has absolutely no fear.

It was probably pretty scary when he joined Art Blakey’s famed Jazz Messengers while still a student. And he undoubtedly he had some frightful moments while musical director of the Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show.” Then there were the times he performed with the Grateful Dead.

But that’s nothing compared to the challenge Marsalis set for himself at SummerFest Wednesday at Sherwood Auditorium in four songs by Samuel Barber, but especially in Hindemith’s Trio for Tenor Saxophone, Viola and Piano and Busch’s Quintet in E Major for Strings and Alto Saxophone. The “classical” first half was followed by a second half “jazz” set that seemed by comparison a walk in the park.

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REVIEW: Branford Marsalis shows no fear at SummerFest 2014-01-22T11:48:47+00:00

REVIEW: Gabriel and Jeffrey Kahane intriguing, perplexing, at SummerFest

UT San Diego
By James Chute
August 7, 2012

You can only admire SummerFest for taking a risk and presenting an unconventional pairing of singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane and his father, pianist Jeffrey Kahane, as the centerpiece of the first of three Tuesday concerts at Sherwood Auditorium exploring the music of Schubert.

An intriguing program that also included Schubert’s string Quartet in G Major played by the Tokyo String Quartet, the Kahanes alternated between past and present, the younger playing his songs, and the older playing works by Schubert and Schumann (with Gabriel Kahane singing one Schubert song).

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REVIEW: Gabriel and Jeffrey Kahane intriguing, perplexing, at SummerFest 2014-01-22T12:13:58+00:00