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OFAM concerts put the spotlight on two 20th century Romantics.

Byline: Paul Denison The Register-Guard

Benjamin Britten and Samuel Barber, two 20th century composers with romantic sensibilities, will be in the spotlight Thursday and Friday in a mini-festival presented by the Oregon Festival of American Music.

Thursday's program will feature OFAM's American Symphonia Strings, conducted by James Paul, with oboist Kelly Berge and soprano Maria Jette as soloists.

On Friday, Berge and Jette will be joined by concertmaster Kathryn Lucktenberg and other American Symphonia musicians in a program of chamber music.

OFAM promotional material notes that during the first half of the 20th century, when many composers embraced free dissonance and 12-tone techniques, ``Barber and Britten continued to compose in a style more closely related to their Romantic forebears, forging distinctive, personal voices based mainly on past musical traditions and forms yet embracing and incorporating appropriate aspects of contemporary composition.''

Thursday's program, titled ``Being Beauteous,'' will open with Barber's Canzonetta (Op. 48) for oboe and strings, featuring Kelly Berge. This was the last piece of music that Barber wrote. It was intended as the middle movement of an oboe concerto that he never finished. It was orchestrated by Charles Turner in 1981, the year Barber died.

Maria Jette will be featured next in "Les Illuminations," Britten's setting of 10 poems by Arthur Rimbaud including "Being Beauteous."

Jette and pianist Tim Lovelace will open the second half of Thursday's concert with Britten's setting of "Let the Florid Music Praise!" by W.H. Auden and a setting of Mary Coleridge's "Love Went A-Riding" by Frank Bridge (1879-41), who was young Britten's teacher.

To conclude the Thursday program, conductor Paul and the American Symphonia Strings will play Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, described as Britten's "first really mature score."

Friday's chamber music program will open with Barber's "Summer Music" (Op. 31), followed by Britten's setting of "Winter Words," eight poems by Thomas Hardy. The Barber piece will be performed by Carol Redman, flute; Michael Anderson, clarinet; Kelly Berge, oboe; Steve Vacchi, bassoon; and Ed McManus, horn. For the Hardy poems, Jette and Lovelace will again team up.

The second half will include Britten's Three Pieces from the Suite (Op. 6), Barber's Canzone (Op. 38a), Britten's Phantasy (Op. 2) and Barber's "Melodies Passageres" (Op. 27), settings of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke including "Puisque tout passe (Since all things pass)," from which the Friday program takes its title.

Musicians featured will be Lucktenberg and Lovelace (Britten's Three Pieces from the Suite); Redman and Lovelace (Barber's Canzone); Berge, Lucktenberg, violist Leslie Straka and cellist Steven Pologe (Britten's Phantasy) and Jette and Lovelace (Barber's ``Melodies Passageres'').


Illuminations: Britten, Barber and Romantic Idealism in the 20th Century

What: Two Oregon Festival of American Music concerts

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday

Where: Shedd Concert Hall, 285 E. Broadway

How much: $34, $24 and $18 (687-6526)

Pre-concert meal: Reservation only, set menu, beverages extra, 6:30 p.m., Shedd Gym, $16.50 (434-7000)


Among the music of Samuel Barber (1910-1981) that will be performed this week will be Canzonetta for oboe and strings, the last composition of his life.
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Title Annotation:Entertainment
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 3, 2005
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