Massive Mid-Century Masterpieces Link Two Modern Composers in Jacaranda Concert Tonight
Jacaranda's 10th anniversary season continues tonight, February 22, 2014 with a dinner break - a break that separates the performances of two 20-movement mid-twentieth-century masterworks by John Cage and Olivier Messiaen. Each cycle is played by an American pianist with whom the music has become synonymous: Adam Tendler and Christopher Taylor, respectively. The consecutive concerts (Tendler at 5:00 p.m. and Taylor at 7:30 p.m.) will take place at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, 1220 Second Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Jacaranda's first decade gave extensive attention to the centenaries of Messiaen (1908-92) and Cage (1912-89). As a nod to that legacy, artistic director Patrick Scott chose for the 10th anniversary two works for solo piano that link the composers after World War II: Cage's "Sonatas & Interludes" (1946-48) for prepared piano, and Messiaen's "Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jesus" (1944). Both works were influenced in very different ways by the philosophy and music of India. Cage performed his cycle for Messiaen in Paris in 1949, and Messiaen reciprocated with a performance of his cycle by Yvonne Loriod, the work's extravagantly talented dedicatee, who would eventually become Messiaen's wife.
Tendler, described as "an exuberantly expressive pianist" who "vividly displayed his enthusiasm for every phrase" by Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed, will perform the 60-minute Cage work at 5 p.m. without pause and from memory. Recognized by the American Pianists Association, Tendler has performed modern American piano music in all of the United States.
After a dinner break, Taylor, bronze medalist at the 1993 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and called "one of the most impressive young pianists on the horizon today" by the Washington Post, will perform the two-hour Messiaen work from memory at 7:30 p.m. with an intermission. Taylor's "...blazing performance of Messiaen's [''Twenty Ways of Looking at the Infant Jesus'']... is likely to stand as a point of reference for many seasons to come," wrote the Boston Globe.
The massive piano masterpiece has additional significance for Jacaranda. Messiaen's work was the centerpiece of a one-off, three-concert celebration organized in 2002 by series founders Scott and Mark Alan Hilt to observe the 10th anniversary of the composer's death. The mini-festival's location was First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, where Hilt would soon be appointed Music Director. The enterprise grabbed the attention of the Los Angeles Times' Swed, who noted that, while there had been an abundance of Messiaen tributes in the world's major cities, only the enterprising duo ventured a Southern California tribute. Nine months later, Jacaranda was born.