Tuesday, July 27, 2010

ClarinetFest Day 4

Arriving late to the 8:30am Festival Features #3 program due to a misunderstanding of the shuttle pick-up location, the first half of the program was unfortunately missed.  I (Kellie) finally got there in time to hear Jesse Krebs play Muczynski's Fantasy Trio.  Kreb's sonorous tone blended perfectly with the cellist, and great musicianship was demonstrated across the trio.  The rest of the morning program was nicely filled with various ensembles, with the program order changed to accommodate additional performers.  Next was the D2 Clarinet Duo, two Colombian clarinetists Mauricio Murcia and Jorge Andres Velez Ospina performing original compositions by Murcia himself.  The lively and energetic performance showcased traditional Colombian folk dances and added an authentic Latin flavor to the program. Added on to the program was a piece with unusual instrumentation for clarinet and hand-held drum. Although I couldn't hear the announcement of the performers' names or the piece, it was an interesting contemporary, yet melodically oriented work that is worthy of more performances.

Jesse Krebs, Kazuo Murakami, Mira Frisch
Clarinet and Hand Drum Duo

Mid-morning on Saturday at ClarinetFest was filled with performances of newer works, leaving many of us with difficult decisions to make!  Robert Spring and Jana Starling played at 10:30, and Richard Faria was to debut the winning piece of the ICA Composition Competition at 11, while Scott McAllister's lecture-recital "McAllister on McAllister" was scheduled from 10:30 to noon. He started a half-hour later to allow people to hear Robert Spring's performance, so I (Rachel) was able to catch Glen Hackbarth's Flux, Whitney Prince's Spin, and William O. Smith's Four Duets for Four Demi-Clarinets.  The Smith work was a world premiere written specifically for Spring and Starling, and featured each player performing on two halves of the clarinet at once.  Everyone was fascinated with the unique sound of the demi-clarinets, and the two players joked around on stage quite a bit.  The combination of their individual virtuosity and their dynamism as a pair makes their performances a complete joy to hear. 

Next, people filled a classroom to hear Scott McAllister's presentation about his life and work.  He shared the story of his promising career as a clarinetist which was cut short by a car accident that damaged his right hand.  McAllister said that after the accident, he began to focus on composition, and talked about the inspiration for such pieces as X, Black Dog, and Bling Bling.  He played X in its entirety as well as part of Bling Bling, and impressed everyone with his abilities as a clarinetist despite his injury.  He also offered some tips for clarinets working on his music, emphasizing that in his music, style and energy is more important than notes.
Scott McAllister

A highlight from the afternoon was Eric Mandat's premiere of his Three Studies, composed specifically for the celebration of Stanley Hasty's life and teaching.  This work featured an all-star clarinet ensemble of Hasty students with Eric Mandat conducting, and was based on etudes that Hasty used in his teaching.  The work was a great end to the afternoon-long celebration of clarinet legend Stanley Hasty.

The Saturday evening concert at Bass Concert Hall was a concerto concert, featuring soloists with the ClarinetFest Orchestra.  First was Alan Kay with an exciting performance of the lesser-known Busoni Concertino.  Then Philippe Cuper dazzled the audience with his rendition of Spohr's Concerto No. 2.  Probably one of the most difficult clarinet concertos, the piece frequently ascends to double high C, and demands great technical virtuosity from the soloist -- which Cuper certainly delivered.

The second half of the concert began with Sergoi Bosi playing two shorter Italian works for clarinet and orchestra.  He engaged the audience (and orchestra) with his confidence and expressive physical presence onstage.

The Copland Concerto is probably the most well-loved clarinet concerto of the twentieth century, and José Franch-Ballester's commanding performance was outstanding even at a ClarinetFest filled with great performances.  The appreciative audience was instantly on their feet to give him the old "Texas Stand-up"!

No comments: