From Bach to the movies | July 5, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - July 5, 2019

From Bach to the movies

Music@Menlo spans the centuries

by Janet Silver Ghent

This year's Music@Menlo festival highlights seven "Incredible Decades," transporting audiences from the age of Bach through the romantic era to the Roaring '20s and the new millennium. While last summer's seven-city "Creative Capitals" journey featured music from seven European cities, this year's event crosses the ocean into the 20th century, as jazz and popular music coming out of the New World inspired composers worldwide.

Spanning centuries of chamber music, the 17th annual festival runs July 12 to Aug. 3 at the Center for Performing Arts at Menlo-Atherton High School and Menlo School, both in Atherton.

"Bach Ascending," the first concert program, opens in the 18th century, with the first "Brandenburg " Concerto as well as a suite from Handel's "Water Music." Pianist Wu Han and cellist David Finckel, co-founders and co-artistic directors of the festival, said they are particularly excited about performing those pieces at Menlo for the first time.

Moving through the ages, programs include "Beethoven Launched," which also includes Haydn and Mozart; "Classical Twilight," featuring Schubert's "Winterreise" song cycle, with Wu Han on piano; the "Romantic Revolution," with the music of Schumann, Chopin and Mendelssohn; and "Moscow to Montmartre," spanning such disparate composers as Rachmaninoff and Debussy.

"I've been drooling over that piece for a long time and finally feel I'm old enough to take the challenge," Wu Han said of "Winterreise." Based on 24 poems by Wilhelm M

Freelance writer Janet Silver Ghent can be emailed at


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