KEEPIN’ IT CLASSICAL: Spanish tangos and Russian rivals

By on August 4, 2015

A week of Flamenco guitar, post-war greats and percussion ensemble

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Bravo Presents: Spanish Guitar at Tayloe Piggot Gallery, 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Tayloe Piggot Gallery. $20 includes a glass of wine from Landmark Vineyards. 50 person limit.

As a part of their efforts to reach new and younger patrons, the Grand Teton Music Festival has hosted a series of town concerts this season. Bravo is the Grand Teton Music Festival’s young patrons social club and this week they will be hosting their second gallery performance of the season at Tayloe Piggot’s contemporary art gallery. The festival’s guest artist-in-residence Spanish guitarist Pablo Villegas will be the featured performer in this evening of mingling, art and flamenco music, with works by Villa-Lobos, Bonfá, and Barrios-Mangoré on the bill. Villegas is an incredible talent. A guitarist of Spanish birth and heritage, he has performed in more than 30 countries around the world, for the Dalai Lama and the Spanish royal family and was the performer of “Rounds,” the first composition for guitar by five-time Academy Award winner John Williams. Don’t miss this intimate evening of virtuosity, art and handcrafted wine, as a complimentary glass comes with the ticket, courtesy of event co-sponsor Landmark Vineyards wine.

Chamber Music: Bass ‘n’ Brass, 8 p.m., Thursday, Walk Festival Hall. $25, students free, $15 day-of rush.

Thursday’s concert opens with this week’s festival artist-in-residence Spanish guitarist Pablo Villegas performing flamenco guitar with works by some of the great masters of the instrument: Roland Dyens, Tárrega and J. Rodrigo. Villegas is a connoisseur of his craft — his tone, touch and texture on the guitar are distinctly his voice while simultaneously paying homage to the tradition of his classical musical study.  Contemporary American composer and horn soloist Douglas Hill’s quirky “Bass ‘n’ Brass” trio is up next, making inventive use of the combination of horn, trombone and upright bass, a trio not usually seen in the musical world. German composer and piano prodigy Felix Mendelssohn’s “Piano No. 1 in D minor” closes the bill, with Mendelssohn being one of the most popular composers of the Romantic era. Often called the “Mozart of the 19th century,” he was greatly responsible for “rediscovering” the keyboard works of J.S. Bach, and his study of said manuscripts is evident in his work. The composer’s style is characteristic of a more conservative vein of Romantic form than his experimental contemporaries such as Franz Liszt, Hector Berlioz and Richard Wagner. His “Piano Trio” for the evening is one of his most popular and considered to also be one of his greatest chamber works. It’s a piece that dances in the lush soundscapes one would expect from a Romantic era artist although still polite enough to be reminiscent of it’s not-so-distant classical past.

Festival Orchestra: Russian Rivals with guest conductor Osma Vänskä and piano soloist Behzod Abduraimov, 8 p.m., Friday; 6 p.m., Saturday. Open rehearsal 10 a.m., Friday, Walk Festival Hall. $25-55, students free, $15 day-of; $10 open rehearsal.

This weekend’s performances features three preeminent composers of the 20th century as presented at the baton of guest conductor Osma Vänskä. The evening will open with Sergei Prokofiev’s (of “Peter & The Wolf” fame) “Suite From Lieutenant Kije.” The piece is taken from the film of the same name and features five movements that highlight the music of the movie. Based on a satirical and fictional Russian war hero, the music is varied, running the spectrum of instrumentation, mood and melodrama. Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” follows, as performed this weekend by solo pianist Behod Abduraimov. Based on the violin composer and virtuoso Paganini’s “24 Caprices for Solo Violin,” Rachmaninoff places his own expressive style and unique instrumentation into the mix, with the Rhapsody running the gamut from symphonic movements, traditional melodies oft quoted by fellow composers and a true homage to Paganini’s explosive virtuosity. The evening closes with the fifth symphony by Finnish great Jean Sibelius. “Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major” was written as a sort of escape from the harsh realities of WWI. Performed first on the composer’s 50th birthday, the music is somewhat pastoral, again in direct contrast to the chaos of the times. The work was refined over time into the three movements we know today, climaxing with an uplifting third movement, reminiscent of the natural world that gave Sibelius much inspiration and respite.

Inside the Music: Let’s Talk Drums, 8 p.m., Tuesday, Walk Festival Hall. $25, students free, $15 day-of

Tuesday’s concert is all about the percussion. The festival percussion ensemble rarely steps into the spotlight, but this is their time to shine through John Cage’s “Third Construction.”  The piece was written to explore the infrastructure of musical theme without the use of tonality and instead through the use of rhythmic form. Also with Christopher Rouse’s Haitain Voodoo-inspired “Ogoun Badagris” and Breuer’s undeniably feel-good “Backtalk” for solo xylophone and percussion ensemble, the evening is sure to delight with works of intrigue, inspiration and mystery written for a rarely-featured member of the orchestral family. PJH

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