Ms. Berberian opens the recital with a mournful and languishing piece called Oror (Lullaby) by Hampartzoum Berberian. Interjections of brilliant technical runs punctuate a mostly subdued texture. Dreamily, a rhapsodic opening leads to more energetic technique in the first movement of Armenian Stirring by Joseph Spaniola. The middle movement is another somber Oror, and the last movement, Through the Darkness, A Light, gradually grows out of the somewhat solemn atmosphere and ends on a joyous and triumphant note.
Mr. Hunt performs two pieces on bass clarinet. The first is unaccompanied, Saeta by Alvaro Bertrand. Mr. Hunt showcases his formidable bass chops, switching easily from barely audible pianissimos to forceful blurs of arpeggios. The next piece features Ms. Myers as narrator for Allan Bank’s Fantasy Variations on the Turkish Lady. She reads an exciting Turkish tale of the high seas, prison, and love, with bass accompaniment. Or is the story the accompaniment to the bass? At times when the story and bass both grow agitated and intense it becomes difficult to follow both at the same time. The addition of spoken word provides a distinct contrast to a bass clarinet and bassoon duet.
Mr. Berti continues with Chips Off the ‘Ol Block by Eric Mandat, displaying extended techniques including some truly gorgeous multiphonics and a delightful swinging flutter tongue section. Next is Sonata for Bass Clarinet and Piano by Arthur Gottschalk. Sharp, short piano chords immediately set up a quick and agitated atmosphere, starkly different from much of the music in this recital. This vibrant music leaves Mr. Berti unable to stand still; he dances and bounces next to the piano as he effortlessly blazes through franticly difficult technical passages. The second movement, Motet – Ancient Incantations, Mr. Berti slowly drones with a beautiful, lyrical sound. The finale Green Dolphy Street Boogie is upbeat and lively. Ms. Andrist (piano) at time claps, as well as playing with one hand and slapping the piano with the other, while Mr. Berti occasionally stomps and snaps his fingers. Together they form a bass clarinet, piano, percussion quartet! Near the end Mr. Berti jumps with both feet, gaining considerable altitude, and landing with a resounding thud that provides both an amusing and rhythmically appropriate effect for this movement. The piece closes with a dazzling riff soaring up and down the range of the instrument, a spectacular end to the concert!
–Notes by Sam Davies
Sam Davies recently completed his first year of DMA study with Dr. Guy Yehuda at Michigan State University. At MSU Davies can be heard performing with the Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra, chamber ensembles, and new student compositions.