Saturday, July 24, 2010

ClarinetFest Day 2

In the first of three master classes scheduled in the Recital Studio, Dan Gilbert's central concept for the students focused on phrasing and how to approach it via tension and release.  The first two players performed orchestral excerpts in which Gilbert's coaching produced immediate improvements and offered the students a different method for understanding harmonic implications within the melodic lines.  He had the students play diatonic motives with emphasis and releases on specific notes, creating a more interesting and expressive musical line. Gilbert's approach and demeanor made the students very comfortable while on stage, and the entire master class felt like watching Gilbert teach a private lesson.
Dan Gilbert Master Class

The following master class by Donald Montanaro began with an explanation of Leopold Stokowski's new direction of the sound within the Philadelphia Orchestra's woodwind section.  His aim was to attain a blend of both French and German schools of playing by appointing Daniel Bonade (clarinet) and Marcel Tabuteau (oboe) as principle players combined with the German bassoon sound.  Monatanaro then further explained Tabuteau's method of assigning numbers to correspond with levels of dynamics and applying them within the phrases.  He also talked about tongue position and breathe attacks, demonstrating how the air stream should not be forced by the action of tongue. Keeping the audience engaged for over 45 minutes with interesting anecdotes and ideas, I (Kellie) had to leave before the students had a chance to perform.  Nonetheless, the master classes was great and offered many insights into approaches on phrasing and articulations.

Montanaro Master Class

One of the most exciting and energetic concerts of the day was the clarinet and guitar duo, Gabriele Mirabassi (clarinet) and Peo Alfonsi (guitar), performing works composed by Mirabassi himself.  The program consisted of several improvisatory Latin-American pieces with the clarinetist hogging the spotlight with his glissandos and smears, along with his physical movements. Mirabassi's body language was definitely a good reflection of his playing style--free and flexible, yet arousing and demanding.  There were moments when the bell of his clarinet was inches away from the floor as he danced around the stage.  Not contrived or forced in the least bit, his movement was actually refreshing and his energy was highly contagious.  I left the concert feeling lighter on my feet, motivated to be more physically expressive with my own playing.
Gabriele Mirabassi and Peo Alfonsi

The evening concert was a three-part program with Victoria Luperi starting the night off with a wonderful performance of the Verdi/Lovreglio La Traviata: Fantasia da Concerto, followed by the Brahms Trio.  Both were charming performances, full of expression but with great integrity of tone. 
Victoria Luperi
Next came Ilya Shterenberg (principal clarinet of the San Antonio Symphony) with solid performances of the Schumann Fantasy Pieces, Scriabin Seven Preludes and Debussy Rhapsodie.  The Scriabin pieces were very short preludes arranged by Willard Elliot, and made good companion pieces to the Schumann Fantasy Pieces.  Shterenberg played with a beautiful full sound and great musicianship -- but a special mention must go to his stellar pianist Anne Epperson!

Ilya Shterenberg

Finally, the Chicago Clarinet Trio came on with a Divertimento on themes from Mozart's Don Giovanni followed by Defaye's delightful Six Pièces D'Audtion

Chicago Clarinet Trio

We were unable to stay for Michèle Gingras and the Cincinnati Klezmer Trio, but if you did please comment and let us know how it was.  We are trying to attend as many events as we can, but you can only handle so much clarinet in one day!

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