Opening with a smooth and simple melody, Peter Wright welcomed the audience with his lush, warm sound. American Standard by Michael Kaulkin offers the listener a progressively complex melody and frequent changes in color. Wright used Kaulkin’s work to show the audience a glimpse of the depth of his outstanding lyrical playing. By contrast, Belá Kovács’ Moses Fantasia, also played by Wright, showed the listener a simple melody transformed into tremendous virtuosity. Wright skillfully illustrated the playful nature of the first variations and, with each subsequent variation progressing in technical difficulty, Wright rose to the challenge and made some very difficult passages sound effortless. Peter Wright gave a wonderful start to this recital.
The second performer on this recital offered clarinet music seldom heard at events such as ClarinetFest®.
Clarinetist Christin Hablewitz and percussionist Randy Gloss presented works inspired largely by Middle Eastern sources. The first piece performed by the duo is an original composition of Hablewitz, titled Bhairav for Clarinet and Tabla, and is based on a Hindustani Rag. The second work on this portion of the recital was Raqs al-Janub and was written by Issa Boulos. In it, the clarinetist portrays the “irony of the human condition,” described Hablewitz while illustrating the “mistrust and fear between Palestine and America.” The last piece performed by the duo was Avaz and Charmezrab Bidad by Master Ali-Akbar Kahn Shanazi. This work is older and pays homage to Persian composition. The clarinet uses quarter-tone trills, unusual tonalities and a great deal of interplay between the drum and the clarinet. While unusual, these selections offered a nice contrast to this recital.
Concluding the recital was the trio of Eric Mandat, Elizabeth Crawford, and Gail Novak playing Mandat’s 2 Cool 2 B Flat. This four-movement work pairs two E-flat clarinets against the piano. The first movement, E Force, starts the piece with a very large sound and shows what remarkably sensitive players Mandat and Crawford are. Movement two, E for 2, demonstrates some of the sequential material listeners have come to expect from Mandat’s compositions. The third movement Contemplation portrays some of Mandat’s characteristic, unorthodox fingerings that lend themselves to several well-played glissandi. The recital concluded with the fourth movement, Effer Madness. This movement illustrated the very well coordinated nature of this ensemble. Together they achieved a very large, well-rounded sound that ended the recital with an exclamation mark! Kudos to all performers on this recital.
–Notes by Dr. Joshua Meitz
Dr. Joshua R. Mietz teaches clarinet at both Fort Lewis and San Juan Colleges and serves as Co-Director of Choirs at the First United Methodist Church in Durango, Colorado.