[Casa Magazine] Got Rhythm?
By Daniel Kepl, Casa Magazine
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One of the freshest Santa Barbara Symphony programs this season filled the Granada Theatre with energy during last weekend's Saturday night performance. The house was nearly full for Darius Milhaud's "The Creation of the World," written for 1920s jazz orchestra, followed by Aaron Copland's Clarinet Concerto, which uses only strings and harp as backup, but is also infused with jazz. After intermission, Beethoven's eternally exciting Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 brought the evening to a delightfully rhythmic close. Conductor nir Kabaretti's program order rose in excitement like a thermostat: cool jazz, hot jazz, and finally Beethoven's older but far from decrepit rhythmic energy. Carolyn Chrisman's animation of film impresions of Milhaud's Creation ran into some glitches on Saturday, the large screen above the musicians occassionally dark. No matter. The bits that did play for the audience were wonderfully evocative of the cool 1920s Parisian jazz of Milhaud's ballet music on African creation myths. It was also fun to watch Kabaretti conduct the spiffy little dance orhcestra of about 16 players consisting of brass, winds, including sax, string quartet, and a very busy percussionist.
Santa Barbara Symphony Principal Clarinet Don Foster wove delicate garlands of sound in the beautiful first part of Copland's Clarinet Concerto, a pas de deux as Copland himself described the section, between the clarinet and strings. In the thrilling and virtuostic fast sectionof the work, Copland calls out all the jazz riffs that Benny Goodman, for whom the concerto was composed, made famous: a tour de jazz, and some pretty tough jazz at that. Kabaretti, Foster and the orchestra sparkled. Richard Wagner referred to Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 as "the apotheosis of dance," and that was exactly Kabaretti's point as he conducted from memory a spirited and hair-raising performance. Even the elegiac slow movement pushed unforgettably in Kabaretti's hands. The remaining three movements danced with energy. Kudos to horns in the last two, their famous calls championing a fabulous performance by all.