Savannah Music Festival Recommends 

Well, here we are, right in the thick of the final few days of the 2005 Savannah Music Festival. It’s been a whirlwind event, with tremendous performances from scores of world-class artists. Once more, there’s too much going on throughout the remainder of the festival to allow us to cover it all in depth – so what follows are some shows that seem especially worthwhile (which sounds silly on its face, as virtually every single gig has much to offer).

As always, for a complete schedule of shows – as well as online ticket sales – we refer you to the festival’s website, www.savannahmusicfestival.org/. Enjoy!

The Beaux Arts Trio at 50

Formed in 1955 at the Berkshire Music Festival (now home to the Tanglewood Music Center, this celebrated unit still thrives under the direction of its founding member, pianist Menahem Pressler.

Consistently appearing at prestigious recitals, festivals and cultural celebrations worldwide, they have set the bar for adventurous chamber music groups which seek to redefine the genre, while maintaining a healthy respect for the history of their format.

As a result, many modern-day composers go out of their way to create works specifically with them in mind.

The current lineup includes Pressler, violinist Daniel Hope (who also serves as the Savannah Music Festival’s associate artistic director), and Brazillian cellist Antonio Meneses. They’ll be playing Dvorak’s Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor B.166, Op.90, Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 49, and the premiere of “Trio,” a new piece by Uri Caine written with them in mind. Wed., 7 pm, Lucas Theatre (pre-show talk at 6 pm).

East Meets West

Some of you may remember the pioneering fusion of jazz guitar and Indian ragas created by guitarist (and Miles Davis sideman) John McLaughlin, Dr. L. Shankar and Zakir Hussain.

That trio’s recordings and live shows can now be rightly seen as landmark moments in the evolution of not only jazz, but certainly the notion of world music as well. The combination of McLaughlin’s custom-built “Shakti” guitar (with a scalloped fretboard and 7 sympathetic strings), Shankar’s Carnatic violin, and Hussain’s furious polyrhythmic percussion brought traditional Eastern drones within earshot of mildly adventurous Western listeners who otherwise might never have heard these ethereal, microtonal works.

Now, decades later, a new generation of Indian musicians are being paired with an American slide guitar wizard (Derek Trucks of The Allman Brothers Band) and a British violin prodigy (the aforementioned Daniel Hope) in what promises to be a highlight of this year’s festival. On sitar will be Guarav Mazumdar, the star disciple of the famed master Ravi Shankar. Also on the bill are two of India’s finest young sarod players (Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash), and Sandeep Das and Sai Shyam Mohan on tablas.

This will be the U.S. premier of the work, a tribute of sorts to the ragas recorded by Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menuhin in the late ‘60s.

Thurs., 7 pm, Lucas Theatre.

Richard Goode

One of the world’s leading interpreters of the works of both Beethoven and Mozart, this famed pianist (and Nonesuch recording artist) has long enjoyed a large and loyal following.

It’s been said by many critics that what he brings to his recitals and guest spots with the finest symphonies is a fresh perspective on familiar works.

Says the New York Times, “It is virtually impossible to walk away from one of Mr. Goode’s recitals without the sense of having gained some new insight, subtly or otherwise, into the works he played or about pianism itself.”

For this appearance, he’ll tackle works by Haydn (Sonata in C major Hob.XVI:50), Mozart (Rondo in A minor, K.511), Beethoven (Sonata No. 26 in E-flat major, Op.81a), Janacek (Sonata “In The Street”), and Debussy (Seven Preludes From Book One).

Sat., 7:30 pm, Lucas Theatre.

Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters

One of the top names in the zany, non-stop boogie world of zydeco (a dance-oriented blend of the Cajun, Acadian, Afro-Caribbean and blues forms), Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. (it’s pronounced Doopsie) carries on a tradition started by his father – himself a famed touring zydeco artist.

As the washboard (or rub-board as it’s sometimes known) player and lead vocalist, he sets the beat and the tone for the other nine members of his popular party group. Many consider him to be the finest washboard player alive.

This will definitely be a wild, boisterous dance party, and one of the highlights of the entire festival. Sat., 7:30 pm & 9:30 pm, Tybee Island Gymnasium. w


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Jim Reed

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