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A Few More Morsels Of P.d.q. Bach

November 23, 1986|MARC SHULGOLD

For more than 20 years, Peter Schickele has been exhuming the comically inept compositions of P.D.Q. Bach and feeding them to a public that seemingly can't get enough of such tasteless morsels as the "Sanka" Cantata and the Schleptet. On Tuesday night, the bearded musical satirist once again offers some of his "discoveries" at a Los Angeles Philharmonic-sponsored concert at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

As much as he enjoys putting on these laugh-filled evenings, Schickele does admit that two decades in service to the memory of P.D.Q. does exert its toll. For one thing, there are those unpredictable slapstick entrances: "One time," he recalls, "I dashed down the aisle, leaped on the stage and chipped a tooth."

But there's another price to pay, he adds.

"I have always written serious music, but some people expect everything I do to be funny. I get uncomfortable when people are determined to find something to laugh at in my music. I suppose it (P.D.Q.'s success) is a two-way street."

Not that he's complaining, however. The flow of music from the unstoppable pen of P.D.Q. keeps "Professor" Schickele busy and ever in demand, particularly with what he terms "commissioned discoveries," such as a recent choral work, "Oedipus Tex," written--er, unearthed--to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the state of Texas.

"Oedipus," alas, will not be on the Tuesday program, but take heart. The agenda does list the "Howdy" Symphony, the "Royal Firewater Musick," the "Fuga Meshuga" (from "The Musical Sacrifice") and, with Schickele at the keyboard, the "Fantasieshtick."

All immense fun for the audience, but what about the Professor--chipped teeth aside? "I still get a charge out of these concerts," he says. "But I can see a time when the discoveries are complete. I've closed the gate on commissioned discoveries--I don't want to simply grind this stuff out. But there are still things in the works. Even though I've come up with 75 pieces by P.D.Q., there hasn't been a discovery of a string quartet. I'm confident there'll be one.

"I'm talking to people about some TV projects, and I'm still thinking seriously about a movie. I worked on the idea 10 years ago, but nothing came of it. Of course, I would want the starring role--that's the only thing that could get me to shave off my beard."

Incidentally, on Monday night at Royce Hall, UCLA, Schickele will appear with radio personality Dr. Demento in a lecture titled "The Wonderful World of Spoofing and Poking Fun: A Musical Tribute." Information: (213) 825-0641.

PLUCKY TRIO: Don't confuse the guitar trio of Laurindo Almeida, Sharon Isbin and Larry Coryell with any of those virtuosity-at-all-cost "guitar summit" groups that fill the air with thousands of notes and dozens of broken flat picks and fingernails.

"What's special about this group," says Isbin, "is that we avoid a homogenous sound by mixing up the instruments we use. Laurindo and I will combine a pair of amplified nylon-string guitars with Larry's electric guitar or, on occasion, his 12-string guitar. I feel that a group that churns out lots of notes gives a nice impression for a few minutes. But after that it becomes wearying. We prefer to explore the contrasts of virtuosity and lyricism that multiple guitars can offer."

Though only 30, the American-born guitarist has been playing professionally for more than 16 years. In fact, she stresses, "our combined professional experience totals 100 years."

The trio's program on Saturday at Ambassador Auditorium is dominated by Spanish-flavored music. "We'll do a trio arrangement by Laurindo of the slow movement from (Rodrigo's) 'Concierto de Aranjuez.' In solos, we'll each follow our own musical preferences. Larry does his setting of 'Bolero,' which is sort of a jazz-rock-raga thing. Laurindo will do 'Clair de lune' with a samba beat, and I'll do a lot of Brazilian pieces."

While Coryell and Almeida are deeply rooted in improvisation, Isbin admits she is more from the read-the-notes-off-the-page school, even though a favorite encore--a Bach prelude--involves a bit of three-way jamming. "Classical technique is so meticulous," she stresses. "You can't go too far afield. But I'm sensitive to what Larry and Laurindo are doing. I think they've helped loosen up my playing."

PEOPLE: Julio Bocca has joined American Ballet Theatre as a principal dancer. The Argentine was a principal with the Ballet del Teatro Municipal de Rio de Janiero since 1983, where he danced lead roles in "La Fille Mal Gardee," "Coppelia" and "The Nutcracker." He has guested with numerous companies, including the Kirov and Bolshoi Ballets. In 1985 he won the Gold Medal at the International Ballet Competition in Moscow.

Bocca is scheduled to dance the Prince in Ballet Theatre's "Nutcracker" Dec. 12 at Segerstrom Hall and Dec. 19 and 26 at Shrine Auditorium.

Also new to Ballet Theatre is Pasadena-born Cynthia Anderson, who was named a soloist with the company. She is a former member of the Joffrey and Washington Ballets.

Two other local dance products--Reid Olson and Lesli Wiesner, formerly of Los Angeles Ballet--are appearing with Ballet de Monte Carlo, Dec. 20-Jan. 1, in a new work by former L.A. Ballet director John Clifford. Olson has been dancing with Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Stanislaw Skrowaczewski has been named music adviser of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, in the wake of Pinchas Zukerman's announced intention to step down from his post of music director in May, 1987. The orchestra will continue its search for a successor to Zukerman. Skrowaczewski will continue his post as music director of the Halle Orchestra in England.

Andrew Schenck has been named resident conductor of the San Antonio Symphony. Schenck formerly held associate conducting posts in Baltimore and Honolulu. The Texas ensemble is presently without a music director, though Sixten Ehrling and Zdenek Macal hold conducting posts with the orchestra.

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