Cármelo de los Santos to give intimate solo recital at ABQ home

New Mexico Philharmonic concertmaster to give intimate solo recital

New Mexico Philharmonic concertmaster Cármelo de los Santos. (Courtesy of the New Mexico Philharmonic)

New Mexico Philharmonic concertmaster Cármelo de los Santos is preparing solo recital in a musical feast on Sunday, Jan. 15.

The Brazilian-born violinist will perform personal favorites by Bach, Niccolò Paganini and more in a private Albuquerque home.

The concert arrives the day after de los Santos will play multiple solos in a concert with the full Philharmonic.

The Bach Chaconne represents the pinnacle of the solo violin repertoire in that it covers every aspect of violin playing known during Bach’s time. It is still one of the most technically and musically demanding pieces for the instrument. Violinist Yehudi Menuhin called the Chaconne “the greatest structure for solo violin that exists.”

It is thought that Bach wrote the Chaconne as a response to the death of his first wife, a sombre expression of the grief he experienced.

De los Santos first played the piece at age 16 in a master class with the great American violinist Isaac Stern.

“I was little and very skinny,” he said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C., where he was vacationing with family.

Stern advised him to give a more distinctive voice to the variations.

“There are over 60 variations in the piece,” he said.

The Paganini Caprice No. 24 is the last of the composer’s 24 caprices.

“It’s the most famous,” de los Santos said.

Both Sergei Rachmaninoff and Robert Schumann penned arrangements using the same theme.

“It’s a staple of his repertoire,” he added.

De los Santos is already practicing for the multiple solos when the Philharmonic plays Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” the next evening.

“I’m always practicing; I’ve got the violin here,” he said. “There are maybe 12 little solos over four movements. It’s really a symphony.

“I always had to practice these solos to get into the Philharmonic,” he added. “They’re hard and beautiful.”

He used to listen to the piece with his father, who now has dementia.

“It’s very emotional for me,” he said.

De los Santos came to Albuquerque to teach violin at the University of New Mexico in 2004. He earned his master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music and his doctorate from the University of Georgia. With an abundant solo career, he is now an associate professor of violin. He has played with more than 40 orchestras, primarily in South America and Brazil, as well as with Santa Fe Pro Musica, the Santa Fe Symphony and the old New Mexico Symphony. He made his New York debut at Carnegie Hall in 2002.

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