Trio Solisti in Ridgway
Three nationally acclaimed musicians (The New York Times has called them “consistently brilliant and compelling”) return to the region for their annual summer performance next weekend. “Trio Solisti” consists of cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach, pianist Jon Klibonoff, and violinist Maria Bachmann. Though the instrumentalists specialize in chamber music – originally, classical music intended for an intimate setting, such as a palace chamber or salon – they also routinely collaborate with modern composers.
In 2009, for example, Bachmann and Klibonoff performed the world premiere of Phillip Glass’s Sonata for Violin and Piano. This year, their program will be a musical journey from “Vienna to Budapest,” featuring Hungarian dances by Vittorio Monti, Jeno Hubay and Brahms, as well Beethoven’s great Piano Trio in B-Flat Major, better known as the Archduke’s Trio. The work was one of 14 compositions dedicated by Beethoven to his piano pupil, and, eventually, great friend and benefactor, Archduke Rudolph of Austria.
Of all the pieces Solisti will perform this go-round, violinist Maria Bachmann says, this is the ensemble’s favorite to play. “It’s so noble and grand,” she says. Bachmann calls the slow movement “sublime.” The New Grove Dictionary calls it “one of the most beautiful slow movements Beethoven ever wrote.” The composition had its public debut in 1814 with Beethoven at the piano; this was well into his late “middle period,” and his hearing loss was continuing to progress. The violinist and composer Louis Spohr was in the audience, and later wrote of the performance: “In forte passages the poor deaf man pounded on the keys until the strings jangled, and in piano he played so softly that whole groups of notes were omitted.” It was the last, and most masterful, of Beethoven’s cycle of piano trios. It was also his last performance on the piano. Trio Solisti performs Friday, June 29 at Ridgway’s 4-H Events Center. The concert begins starts at 7 p.m.
Bluegrass in Ouray
The above is not a typo. Yes, this is the weekend of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. It’s also a chance to hear bluegrass in a less raucous, more intimate setting: onstage, indoors, at the Wright Opera House. Paonia musical husband-and-wife duo Bill Powers and Shelley Gray, otherwise known as Honey Don’t, will bring their best bluegrass to the bill, but that’s not all. The concert “is being promoted as bluegrass, so we certainly will lean on that,” Powers says. “It’s where we come from. But with this group” – Powers and Gray will be accompanied by their full electric ensemble – “we can also play rock and roll, Cajun styles and swing. We’ll give ‘em a little bit of everything.”
Powers and Gray are perhaps best known as half of the string band Sweet Sunny South, described by Denver’s alt-weekly Westword as a band that leads “a musical holler of lazy hounds, yawning porches, banjos and long-gone neon motels.” Honey Don’t takes its name from the song by rockabilly artist Carl Perkins. “It was a salute to Perkins, but also seemed to fit with the whole husband-and-wife thing,” Powers says. “It seems to suit us.”
The band is a regular at concerts and festivals on the Western Slope. Look for them in a strictly acoustic appearance at the Sky Bar at Chipeta Solar Springs Resort next month. Their tunes range from full-on bluegrass, to those that convey a sweet nostalgia for another place and era. “Talk To Me Tennessee” may best sum up their appeal this time of year, while “Out walking in the rain/along that quiet country lane/we shared a jug of cherry wine/days were long, sweet summertime.”
Powers is a DJ at KVNF, the public radio station in Paonia. As for what he spins on-air, “There’s no telling what it’ll be,” he says. “Blues, jazz, country or rock and roll, it’s all I like and enjoy, and it’s all relative to the source: Americana. Roots music.” The concert is at 7:30 p.m. this Friday, June 22.
At the Wilkinson: Screwball, Part Deux
Monday, July 2 marks the second installment of the three-month-long series of screwball comedies presented by Telluride Film Festival at the Wilkinson Library. The selections, both top-notch, were plucked from dozens of possibilities. Festival director Gary Meyer, who picked the films, “has a special place in his heart for comedies,” says the Festival’s education-program liaison Erika Gordon. “He had a super long list. It was very hard to narrow down so many great films, and that’s part of the reason we double-billed them.”
Screwball comedies typically feature snappy, witty dialogue, tight plots, and romantic entanglements. This month’s selections include The Awful Truth”(1937; 91 min.), the Cary Grant-Irene Dunne classic directed by Leo McCarey about a couple whose marriage is starting to fall apart; both believe the other has been unfaithful, and they try to make each other jealous. TAT was based on a play that had been filmed twice before, but it is this version that endures. “McCarey gave his superb comic cast free rein to improvise and add new business,” according to the online film database allmovie.com. “The results were splendid.”
Also on the bill is It Happened One Night (1934, 105 minutes), Frank Capra’s seminal screwball comedy starring Claudette Colbert as a spoiled rich girl determined to marry a fortune-hunting aviator, and Clark Gable as the gruff newspaper reporter who thwarts her plans. It Happened won all five Academy Awards (for Best Picture, Actress, Actor, Director and Screenplay). It was the only film that could claim that distinction for the next 41 years, until One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest came along in 1975. Interestingly, shortly after Gable appeared in IHON, his future wife, Carole Lombard, was cast in last month’s classic romp, My Man Godfrey (for which she was nominated for Best Actress). The couple would soon marry; they were happily wed until 1939, when Lombard was killed in a plane crash returning home from a World War II bond drive. Gable would marry twice more, but Lombard remained the love of his life. In a reference to the roles which made her famous, he had said, “You can trust that little screwball with your life or your hopes or your weaknesses, and she wouldn’t even know how to think about letting you down.”
Dinner and a show: the double bill begins at 5:30 p.m., with a light meal before the show at 5 p.m., and dessert or a snack at intermission. Food and film are free to all.