Robyn Jones, Michael Waldrop and Willis Delony opened the afternoon’s recital with Jack Cooper’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano. This trio seamlessly fuses clarinet, percussion, and piano together in the strikingly different movements. From a somewhat subdued Latin feel to almost jazzy, Satie-esque, moods, the trio plays with conviction. Distinctly jazzy and mysterious, the third movement features an excellent jazz piano and percussion duet that gives Ms. Jones a brief respite before the clarinet part gradually increases in intensity, driving the piece to a dramatic and forceful conclusion.
Next on stage, Ms. Pritz takes the first movement of Finzi’s Five Bagatelles at a brisk and lively tempo. The second movement is tender and poignant, starkly contrasting Ms. Pritz’s beautiful sound and excellent use of dynamics in the third and fourth movements. The vibrant Fughetta showcased Ms. Pritz’s range and technique, and provided a nice variety against the overall somber mood of preceding movements. The audience chuckles at the light and simple ending of the piece. Always a good sign!
Muczynski’s duet for flute and clarinet were expertly executed by members of our host institution’s faculty. The duo’s excellent blend and successful navigation of the piece’s tricky intonation challenges helped to bring out this piece’s distinctly Muczynskian sound. Ms. Chodaki and Ms. Kemler kept the audience on their toes with constant stylistic change. At times they juxtaposed the low register clarinet with higher flute lines, and sometimes with the clarinet joining the flute in the higher register. Their ease of trading longer, lyrical lines with staccato accompaniment figures was delightful. The duo looked like they were about to start dancing during the brisk and spirited final movement!
The charming Poulenc duet, at times perhaps influenced by Stravinsky, opens with a lyrical clarinet melody punctuated by the delightful laughter that only a bassoon is capable of. In the second movement, Ms. Chodaki’s smooth, velvety clarinet line is accompanied by Mr. Hale’s masterfully executed leaps that seem to grow constantly wider. The final movement features an intriguing, uncertain dialogue between the two, which eventually gives way, gathers steam, and ends decisively.
In the trio, Ms. Chodaki and Ms. Kemler begin in excruciatingly slow syncopated counterpoint, as the bassoon sings a plaintive aria. The music slowly builds to a climactic dissonant peak, then descends both in pitch and dynamic, to return back down to the mysterious, haunting opening. The trio’s excellent blend and ensemble skills are showcased in the third movement, as frantic passages in all instruments yield to a striking flute cadenza with bassoon and clarinet drone. The same frantic, driving music from before leads to a tentative held resolution, as the bassoon gives a final, dignified hunting call, bringing this curious piece to a conclusion.
–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.