The second concert of Seattle's most ambitious solo piano series, Inside the Music, probes connections among titles, images, and time with a winning program: Pianist Oana Rusu Tomai performs George Crumb's A Little Suite for Christmas A.D. 1979; violinist Adrianna Hulscher joins Tomai for another suite, Impressions from Childhood by George Enescu.
Titles are ultracompact program notes. Some composers still employ the quasi-scientific designations popularized by Varèse's Ionisation, a classic of the early 20th-century avant-garde. You can find pieces with names like "Compression" or Fluorescences almost anywhere. Others hew to tradition and stick with Symphony, Sonata, etc., or bestow words whose meaning remains veiled (e.g., Epithalamion).
When the title is dedicatory (A Little Suite for Christmas A.D. 1979), poetic, or evocative, such as Impressions from Childhood, the composer wants us not only to hear, but to see, imagine, and remember.
The short miniatures within the Little Suite borrow titles from Giotto's famed Arena Chapel frescoes. The strumming inside the piano, hieratic repetitions, and plainly beautiful chords parallel the humble complexity of Giotto's images. More simply, Enescu's Impressions from Childhood evoke gentle, rustic portraits: "Cricket" and "Wind in the Chimney" and so forth.
"Time is present in music and the visual arts," states Ann Cummings, curator of Inside the Music. For this concert, she corralled three visual artists to present several paintings alongside the performance. I'm particularly taken with a series by the Bremerton-based painter Gwen Guidici, whose mountain landscapes flare and glow in shades of white, blue, and ochre. The sequence suggests the passing of time, a reminder of how the eye and ear create the passage of time by remembering, seeing, and hearing anew.
Oana Rusu Tomai performs Sat March 1 at Sherman Clay Piano & Organ, 1624 Fourth Ave, 800-838-3006, 6–7 pm, $9/$15.
MUSIC FOR LUNCH
My pick for classical-music bargain of the week: Pianists Dan and Victoria Sabo tackle twin gems of the 20th-century two-piano repertory, Debussy's En Blanc et Noir and the Sonata for Two Pianos by Francis Poulenc. Sherman Clay Piano & Organ, 1624 Fourth Ave, 622-7580, 12:15 pm, free.
DUKE ELLINGTON ORCHESTRA
Duke himself passed on in 1974, but grandson Paul Ellington and the band soldier on playing classics such as "Take the 'A' Train," "Cotton Tail," and "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)." Will there be a Duke Ellington Orchestra in 2054? Yes, and by then the transformation of jazz into a "classical" music will be complete. Through Sun March 2. Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, 7:30 and 9:30 pm, $28.50.
For the fifth annual installment of this series, a clutch of string slingers serves up short sets on guitar (acoustic and electric), banjo, and maybe an invented instrument or two. Pickers and strummers include Steve Schmitt of the Diminished Men, KRGA, Noggin's Eric Ostrowski on violin, Dan Beall, Heather Cullen (aka sokai stilhed), and others. Expect everything from down-home flat-pickin' to strings festooned with extra wires, paper clips, and shivering scraps of aluminum foil. Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave, 441-5823, 10 pm, $5.
Alto sax firebrand Wally Shoup and his Spider Trio compadre Dave Abramson deliver "high-energy Aylerish tunes and downtempo soul." Also, guitar saboteur Bill Horist plays a set on acoustic guitar. Cigar-chomping wordsmith Doug Nufer opens. Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave, 441-5823, 7:30 pm, $5.
JIM CUTLER QUARTET
As part of Pony Boy Records' Jazz and Sushi series, saxophonist Jim Cutler fronts this amiable straight-ahead jazz group in toe-tapping originals and standards. The quartet features pianist Brian Olendorf, Greg Williamson on drums, and bassist Philip Demaree. Hiroshi's Restaurant, 2501 Eastlake Ave E, 726-4966, 7:30—10 pm, free.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Violinist Michael Lim teams up with violist Melia Watras and pianist Cristina Valdes to present works by George Antheil, Michael Daugherty, Yoko Ono, and John Corigliano. PONCHO Concert Hall at Cornish College, 710 E Roy St, 325-6500, 8 pm, $7.50/$15.
By capturing and presenting familiar sounds, field recordings offer an easy entryway into "difficult" (i.e., beatless and timbrally vaporous), abstract music. This dozen-strong ensemble of sound artists, which includes Doug Haire, Steve Peters, Jonathan Way, and Toby Paddock, improvise collectively with field recordings made here in town and around the world. Fourth-floor Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 789-1939, 8 pm, $5—$15 sliding-scale donation.
SEATTLE YOUTH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Don't let the name fool you; these kids are quite good. Conductor Stephen Rodgers Radcliffe leads the band in Aaron Copland's The Tender Land Suite, Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 3, and the Too Hot Toccata by Aaron Jay Kernis. Cellist Joshua Roman is the soloist in William Walton's Cello Concerto. Benaroya Hall, 200 University St, 362-2300, 3 pm, $10—$40.