Thursday morning’s 8:00 recital at the School of Music recital hall began with a clarinet, violin and piano trio performed by Christy Banks, Reuben Blundell and Audrey Aubrist. Titled Haunted by Waters and composed by Rusty Banks, the work began with a mesmerizing dialogue between violin and clarinet that opens into a whirling piano solo. The second movement is much more angular and energetic, its disjunct lines surging propulsively. The darkly dissonant, often static third movement at times reminded this listener of Messiaen, followed by a lighter and more playful finale. The three performers were masterful in drawing the audience into the colorful world of this fascinating piece, giving a vibrant and full-throated reading.
Jeff Anderle followed with David Lang’s work for solo bass clarinet, Press Release. From the slap tongue that begins the first note, Anderle played this piece with an infectious energy appropriate to the piece’s heavy groove. By the time the bass clarinet’s high register began to shine through the rhythmic ostinato, the reviewer was wondering if that second cup of coffee would be necessary after all. Anderle’s athleticism and control were truly remarkable, and he performed this piece with a headlong dynamism that was thrilling to hear.
The concert closed with Double Concerto for clarinet and bass clarinet by Noah D. Taylor, performed by Robert Spring and Matthew Miracle, with Gail Novak at the piano. The piece’s opening cadenzas explored the extremes of range for both instruments, followed by a rhapsodic melody that was somewhere between Rachmaninoff and klezmer. The work’s outer movements featured exciting rhythmic passages that recalled a variety of Eastern European styles, all performed with relish and great energy by the performers. Spring’s part reached into the stratosphere of the clarinet’s range, while Miracle’s bass clarinet lines propelled the piece forward with rhythmic ostinati and many resonantly low tones. The second movement featured more lyrical writing, with both instruments trading long-breathed melodies. All three players gave impressively virtuosic performances that brought the recital to an exciting finish.
–Notes by Michael Rowlett
Michael Rowlett is the assistant Professor of Clarinet at The University of Mississippi. You can find his CD Close to Home: Music of American Composers on Amazon and Albany Records.