The first day of ClarinetFest2014 has come to a boisterous conclusion with displays of artistry and athleticism from our performers, presenters, and competitors alike. In similar fashion, the evening’s final performances did not disappoint. Todd Cope began the recital with an intimate performance of Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34a. The sensitivity in his phrasing and beckoning of his piano dynamics captivated the audience, enrapturing our senses with his tone and dynamicism.
Following Cope, Julien Hervé flawlessly captured the mysterious mood of Penderecki’s Sinfonietta No. 2 with equal parts depth and direction. The earthy basses and soloists of the Ritz Chamber Orchestra led by David Hattner expertly followed Herve’s lead and supported the expansiveness of his sound and interpretive subtleties.
In a drastic turn of style, Joseph Eller captures our attention with his first note, a pointed and clear altissimo. His svelte tone whirled around the playful melodies and lush harmonies of Ferruccio Busoni’s Concertino Op. 48, BV with expert ease and conviction. After a brief intermission, Julian Bliss enlightened the audience with his knowledge and understanding of Finzi’s Concerto for Clarinet & String Orchestra, Op. 13. Drawing from interactions he’s had with Finzi’s son and a first hand look at his writing studio, Bliss constructed a lovely and polished performance. Never have I seen an audience so eager to applaud the end of a performance, and I have never struggled so much with wanting to applaud between movements. Bravo!
We were presented with a brief pause as Lisa Canning interviewed Julia Heinen, who displayed her humor and candidness to the audience. After a few short questions, the evening’s music continued with Heinen’s performance of Scott McAllister’s Black Dog. Her virtuosity and raucous, guitar-like imitations were displayed in McAllister bends, growls, and glissandi. In a genre all his own, McAllister’s works always find eager listeners and performers.
The evening came to a close with a duet by Julian Bliss and Julien Hervé. Their U.S. premiere of Krystof Maratka’s Csardas No. 4 for Two Clarinets and String Orchestra left the audience thrilled to the brim with their folk-stylings of Martka’s dance-inspired work. After an encore performance displaying their virtuosic range, technical facility, and speed, the recital came to a close and the audience slowly filed their way back to their hotels and homes to eagerly await the start of the next day’s music making.
–Notes by Melissa Morales
Melissa Morales is a master’s student at DePaul University studying with Julie DeRoche and Larry Combs. She currently teaches at The People’s Music School and performs with The Candid Concert Opera’s Orchestra Nova and the Chicago Symphonic Winds.