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Galway's 10th Anniversary at the Bowl

July 10, 1988|GREGG WAGER

Whether he's reviving a forgotten 19th-Century flute work or tootling out a penny-whistle version of "The Baby Elephant Walk," James Galway leaves his distinctive, virtuosic fingerprint on everything he plays. The Irish-born flutist--who made his United States debut as a solo artist at Hollywood Bowl 10 years ago this week--makes no apologies for this split personality.

"I don't play at places like the Hollywood Bowl to give music lessons," said Galway over the telephone from New York, reportedly suffering from a mild toothache. "The people that go there know what they're there for: They just want to enjoy music."

Tuesday, the 67th Hollywood Bowl season opens with Yuri Timerkanov conducting the L.A. Philharmonic in a Russian program. Galway will be the soloist performing Aram Khatchaturian's 1940 Violin Concerto, transcribed for the flute.

When asked if he was planning to use the often performed transcription by his former teacher, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Galway--"Jimmy" to his friends--was quick to respond, "Of course not! Why should I play anyone else's transcriptions when mine are better anyway?"

Rampal's version, which was recorded in the late 1960s, follows Khatchaturian's score almost note for note. Khatchaturian, who himself said that the violin part of his concerto could be substituted by the flute, lived to hear this version and gave it his blessing.

But, for a perfectionist like Galway, it needed something more. "I heard Rampal's transcription and thought it had possibilities but was somewhat unsuccessful," said Galway. "I thought I could do it better. So, I did."

Galway's version, strikingly different, takes more liberties with the original score in an effort to create a flute part that displays virtuosic passages not necessarily idiomatic on the violin. The dark, brooding nature of the violin part is transformed into a brilliant showpiece for the flute.

"For example, I transpose the opening theme up to the third octave," he explains. "In Rampal's transcription, he plays it in the original octave, the lowest octave on the flute, which is not loud enough."

The third octave of the flute, which can be very loud, requires more complicated fingerings and an extra amount of breath control. Although Galway (on the recording) seems to play it effortlessly, the end result is extremely difficult.

"I have to practice my transcription five times as much as any student would take to prepare the Rampal transcription," admits Galway.

"But I take a lot of time when I transcribe to make sure the music is right for the flute--and it is."

Also on the program for Tuesday's gala opening will be "Pictures at an Exhibition" by Mussorgsky/Ravel and the Overture and Polovtsian Dances from "Prince Igor" by Borodin.

GALWAY ENCORE: Wednesday, Galway performs again at the Hollywood Bowl, this time in a recital with pianist Phillip Moll. On the program will be music by Dvorak, Prokofiev, Faure, Chaminade, Godard, three Galway transcriptions of Debussy pieces and the Suite from Bizet's "Carmen."

AFRICAN MARKETPLACE: Every third weekend of the month from July through September, the annual African Marketplace takes place at the William Grant Still Arts Center, 2520 West View St. (near Adams and La Brea). Saturday, dance performances and workshops by the Dundun Ensemble, the Djimbe Dancers and Drummers and others will take place all day, as well as live pop music, arts and crafts. The performers next Sunday include the West African dancing troupe, Ballet Saba, and the Kaumonkele Performing Arts Theatre.

ELISE L. STOEGER COMPOSER'S CHAIR: Milan Stoeger, a little-known Yugoslavian immigrant who regularly attended concerts, has bequeathed almost half a million dollars to the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New York. He requested the money be used to set up a biennial prize to a composer of chamber music in the name of his wife, Elise. The first award--estimated at about $40,000 to $50,000--will go to Gunther Schuller. For the next two years Schuller will participate in lectures and present his music, including a new work for chamber ensemble to be performed at Lincoln Center sometime in the 1989-90 season.

NEW WORLD FESTIVAL FINALES: Tuesday night, concluding the symphonic part of the New World Festival at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Mexican-born conductor Eduardo Mata conducts the New World Symphony in Beethoven's Violin Concerto with Cho-Liang Lin as soloist. Also to be performed will be Carlos Chavez's Symphony No.2 "Sinfonia India" and Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera's "Pampeana No. 3." . . . Thursday at UC Irvine, Juliana Gondek, soprano, Karen Fuller, flute, Ofra Harnoy, cello, and Val Underwood, piano, perform Hindemith's "Kammermusik," Mendelssohn's Octet for Strings, Ravel's "Chansons Madecasses" and other works--the final concert of the New World Festival.

BACHAUER COMPETITION WINNERS: 19-year-old Kong Xiang-dong of the People's Republic of China came in first out of 300 competitors in the recent Gina Bachauer piano competition in Salt Lake City. Alan Chow of the U.S. was second, followed by Eckart Heiligers and Joachim Arnold of West Germany, Kevin Kenner of the U.S. and James E.K. Parker of Canada.

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