To open the recital, Mr. Fraioli performed the world premiere of his composition Suggestioni for Clarinet and String Quartet with the Ritz Chamber Players. At times quite jazzy, this piece moved through several different moods such as a lovely unison duet with the clarinet and first violin, a poignant counterpoint duet between clarinet and cello, and a sustained and lyrical clarinet line against constant pizzicati from the quartet. At one point Mr. Fraioli moved so excitedly he almost flew out of his chair! As the piece came to an end, he tore through virtuosic passages embellished with several well-placed smears. A final series of sharply accented chords led the listeners to expect a calculated cadential sequence, but instead, the quartet stopped as Mr. Fraioli held a single note, stood up, and walked off stage. Still playing behind closed doors, his sound faded to niente, a delightful and unexpected conclusion!
Next, John P. McCowen’s Clarinet Quartet No. 1 was performed, from memory, by the composer with Mr. Emch, Mr. Fitzgerald, and Mr. Goodman. It opened with barely audible notes moving slowly in and out of the texture, creating a feeling of swimming through a calm, unbroken lake of sound. The quartet began to gingerly add pitch bends and quavering trills. Use of multiphonics created the illusion of electrical interference or feedback, and with an expanded range, dynamic contrast, and harsher, growling timbres the music vacillated in and out of intensity. Eventually calmed, the placid levels suddenly end. Throughout the work, the group stayed as still as possible, adding a visual element to the performance. At the end, and desperate for movement, they quickly bounded out of their seats, breaking the spell created by this intriguing piece.
–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.