Zuill Bailey Shakes Things Up in BachFest Fall Season Debut

By Lapidus, Larry | The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), August 28, 2019 | Go to article overview

Zuill Bailey Shakes Things Up in BachFest Fall Season Debut


Lapidus, Larry, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)


If you go

The Northwest BachFest's fall seasion continues with "The Teenage Chopin - Early Genius" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Barrister Winery, 1213 W. Railroad Ave. Tickets are $45 general admission, $15 for students, available through nwbachfest.com.

Concert review

Recent years have seen the rise in what we might call the "curator/artist": a person responsible for organizing a show of works of art whose creative vision is as important as that of the artist or artists whose work is being exhibited.

Since assuming the role of artistic director of the Northwest BachFest, Zuill Bailey has not only continued its elevation into the front ranks of similar events in our country, but he also has used his authority in planning the programs and engaging the performers to instruct all of us in how to engage with and comprehend the world of classical music in our time.

Not content with dusting off long-loved scores by Beethoven and Brahms and creating a stable of familiar players to perform them, Bailey set out from the start to shake things up by programming little-known works by well-known composers, radical transformations of familiar masterpieces or immersive, blockbuster series of masterworks (Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier," for example) formerly regarded as off-limits in a festival setting.

Sunday's kick-off of the festival's fall season, titled "Spanish Nights," at Barrister Winery was a perfect example. Bailey called on four friends who are brilliant musicians (he seems to have a very large circle of tremendously gifted close friends) to perform works by all of the leading Spanish composers of the 20th century, with the exception of Isaac Albeniz.

We heard works by Joaquin Rodrigo ("Sonata Pimpante"), Manuel de Falla ("Seven Spanish Popular Songs"), Enrique Granados ("Andaluz" from his "Spanish Dances, Op. 37") and Joaquin Turina ("Piano Quartet in A minor, Op. 67"). Emphasizing the questing, dynamic spirit behind the festival, Bailey himself performed two works not on the program, Pablo Casals' "The Song of the Birds" and the "Sarabande" from J.S. Bach's First Suite for Solo Cello.

Joaquin Rodrigo is the composer of what is likely the world's most familiar piece of Spanish instrumental music, the "Concierto de Aranjuez" (1939) for guitar and orchestra. The work we heard Sunday, the "Sonata Pimpante," on the other hand, is so unfamiliar that it fails to warrant inclusion in what pretends to be a listing of Rodrigo's complete works in Wikipedia.

Yet it was revealed in a performance by violinist Kurt Nikkanen and pianist Alfredo Oyaguez as a work of brilliant invention, superb construction and inspiring impact. …

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