This Saturday and Sunday, Santa Barbara’s Granada Theatre will become, for a weekend at least, the center of the world for contemporary Italian classical music, as that country’s foremost young composer, Cristian Carrara, will be here to attend the world premiere of his latest composition, Machpelah: Dialogue for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra. Carrara’s double concerto is named for the Cave of the Patriarchs, a site in the old city of Hebron on Israel’s West Bank that contains the tombs of three couples from the early chapters of Genesis: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah. In this musical dialogue about love, the parts of the man and the woman are played by the soloists, who just happen to be a man and a woman — the rising star, Italian violinist Francesca Dego, and the principal cellist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Robert deMaine.
No modern work named for a sacred site located on the West Bank would be complete if it professed to be innocent of politics. Carrara’s explicitly is not. He intends this musical conversation as an analogy and even perhaps an example of what real discussion can achieve or, in his words, that “ love can defeat fear.” That’s a message that can’t be heard often enough when talking about Israel and the current situation on the West Bank.
The entire program, which also includes an Italian baroque br ass fanfare by Giovanni Gabrieli, Handel’s Water Music, and Béla Bartók’s scintillating Concerto for Orchestra, centers on this theme of dialogue, thus setting Carrara’s new work in a creative lineage of great music aimed at promoting communication and understanding.