Alexander Goldstein has taken the skates off. The wizard behind the music programs of Olympic ice champions is creating music directly for music lovers.
One of them premieres for U.S. audiences Sunday, when the Camerata of Naples performs his Rhapsody on a Theme by Albinoni. (For location, time and details see the information box with this story.)
Those who don’t know the composer Tommaso Albinoni actually may still not know him after the concert, Goldstein joked: The exact authorship of the work is in dispute. Still, it’s immensely popular, knownas the Adagio in G minor by Albinoni, and if we don’t know that title, we know that tune:
When the performance of Goldstein’s rhapsody is over Sunday, we also may know how six famous composers would have handled it. The Rhapsody opens with a straight reading of the melody then evolves through treatments in the style of six musical giants.
“I don’t demand people know the composers. I just want them to enjoy it,” Golsdstein said. Music lovers won’t be able to resist, however, trying to sleuth out the adaptations for Mozart, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Rossini, Mendelssohn and Paganini.
Goldstein has a strong partnership with that adagio. He first used it to shape a four-minute program for ice dance pairs. It became a four-leaf clover for his clients: Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz skated their way to the first-ever World Champion titles for North American skaters with that Albinoni adagio in 2003.
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Four years later, a different coach called to ask: Would he be willing to set a program to piece known as the Albinoni Adagio?
“I said, ‘Hold on! I already have this done,'” he recalled. But he began to tinker with it again for another program.
His Rhapsody is not an easy work, and Goldstein would be at rehearsals last week to keep each variation true to the composer’s style. It has been premiered for Eastern Europe in Tartarstan, and La Primavera Kazan Chamber Orchestra booked it for its South America tour in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic ended that.
Although few people in Naples may know it, this is Golstein’s return to his first love: composition. For 43 years of his life the Moscow-born immigrant was steeped in classical music — his father played in the Bolshoi Orchestra — and film scoring, his chosen profession. He has some 300 films, documentaries, promotional shorts and animated features to his credit.
While many of them have been for Russian filmmakers and businesses, Goldstein has written for U.S. clients from Maxell Corp. to Guess clothing.
When he came to New York to be creative director for a post-glaznost Russian-language station, demand for his videography skills began to grow. And after he created one music program for a skating coach, that business really began to roll in.
Goldstein and his wife, Marina Berkovich, formed AGB World LLC, which offers both videography and music services. Most of the music they work with is that of other composers. Goldstein contracts with gymnasts and skaters to find the right piece or pieces, and imprint the right character on it for their competition programs.
That may mean ramping up the percussion, or orchestrating additional instruments for a richer sound. He inserted a closing musical flourish twice to allow time for a final skating maneuver, so smoothly he had to point it out for the listener.
“I make it like it’s fully organic, so people don’t know the difference,” he said. Goldstein cringes at skaters who don’t use music that is linked to all their moves. It’s so obvious, he said: “It looks like they don’t have any connection.”
His philosophy works. Goldstein’s muscle, as music editor or arranger, is behind 40 Olympic medals and 120 world medals over the last three decades.
But he has never stopped composing, and variations or musical digressions from existing themes are a favorite genre. There’s a Goldstein Suite for Clarinet, Violin and String Orchestra, “Rotissimo,” paying homage the music of cinema composer Nino Roti (Fellini films, “The Godfather,” “Romeo and Juliet”). Goldstein’s “Trio on the Roof” uses themes from Jerry Bock’s music for “Fiddler on the Roof.”
“I frankly don’t remember how the idea came to me,” he said of his newest work. “But Rachmaninoff made this beautiful composition, ‘Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini,’ and it’s in the form of variations. It’s a world-famous composition. Everybody plays it.
“I thought this theme of Albinoni may be not much less powerful,” he reflected, and beamed. “So I decided to make my own rhapsody.”
Harriet Howard Heithaus covers arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com. Reach her at 239-213-6091.
What: Camerata of Naples: performs works with featured artists, from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” (Daniela Shtereva, violin), a harp concerto (Noa Michaels) and the U.S. premiere of Alexander Goldstein’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Albinoni” (Boris Sandler, violin; Adam Satinsky, cello; Bella Gutshtein, harpsichord)
When: 4 p.m. Sunday, May 8.
Where: St. John’s Episcopal Church, 500 Park Shore Drive, Naples
Reservations: 239-596-8404 or [email protected]