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Holiday December 2013 Hot News

12 December 2013


Major Recital with VIP Anthony McGill, Solo Clarinetist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and Gloria Chien, piano - American Philosophical Society at Benjamin Franklin Hall

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

              The great instrumentalists transcend the medium. In a way, Anthony McGill made the clarinet disappear at his extraordinary Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital Thursday night with pianist Gloria Chien.

              It's not that he wasn't able to exploit the character of his instrument. On the contrary. But he played as if none of its inborn difficulties had ever existed. Not a hint of peril surfaced in extremely quiet sustained high notes, nor was there a split second of unease when he nailed a pitch out of nowhere. He was on easy terms with fast runs.

              Impressive, yes, that McGill has almost ludicrously fluid command from the depths of his chalumeau, up through the clarion register, and all the way to the altissimo. The transcendent part, however, is what he did with all this skill. McGill is the slyest of manipulators of phrasing.

A word about Chien. At the end of a group of Scriabin pieces transcribed for clarinet and piano, McGill granted her the American Philosophical Society stage alone, in the Nocturne for Left Hand (Op. 9, No. 2). Here, as in her work with McGill, she found a gorgeous array of colors, assigning one personality to those gestures meant to sound like the classic left-hand bass variety, and another to the right. In the other Scriabin works, and in fact, for the entire recital, McGill and Chien maintained a lockstep precision and unity with each other that approached clairvoyance.

             McGill, a Curtis Institute graduate who is now a principal clarinetist with the Metropolitan Opera orchestra, could not have assembled a more satisfying program: Debussy, Scriabin, Messiaen, and Poulenc, and then Schumann, Berg, and Weber. Each spoke well to a different corner of his personality (even if we must admit to being partial to the Franco-Russian group).

             McGill's soft-tonguing technique and plush sound further sensualized the warm breezes of Debussy's Premičre rhapsodie. Echoes of Ravel were heard in the  "Abîme des oiseaux " ("Abyss of Birds"), the clarinet-alone movement that formed the core around which Messiaen wrote his Quartet for the End of Time. It's brave to perform this movement by itself, music written while the composer was imprisoned in a German World War II camp. At times, McGill was able to make the clarinet sound as if it were echoing within its own walls, a rather poignant connotation.

             Poulenc's Clarinet Sonata was an antidote of lightness, though to consider only its mirth would be a slight. This late work is a distillation of his output; it tinkers with some of the same harmonic patterns in the Flute Sonata, while shreds of The Story of Babar the Elephant and other works emerge.

             The piece covers, in stylish form, a great gamut of human emotions: childlike tenderness, hilarity, and unexpected gashes of deep sorrow. It's only at the end of the second movement that you realize, through McGill's breathing and bending of tone, that what you've heard is the most human of musical feats, the song.



9 December 2013

Vandoren Studio Holiday Party - New York City - VIP David Gould, Host, with visit with Senior VIP Bernard Vandoren from Paris, France - 

New York City USA

 7 December 2013

World Class Clarinet Soloist Martin Frost performs Mozart Clarinet Concerto K622 with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

New York City USA

                 The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s concert at Carnegie Hall on Saturday evening was mainly mellow and mellifluous, with lovely works by Handel and Mozart, and even subdued for a time, with Irving Fine’s “Serious Song.” But halfway through, it ran delightfully amok, when Martin Frost — the soloist for the evening, in a superb performance of Mozart’s sublime Clarinet Concerto — broke loose in an encore.

         The Swedish-born Mr. Frost, who turns 43 on Saturday, is best known for his acrobatics on the instrument, and a Google search will quickly turn up a version of “The Flight of the Bumblebee” with Mr. Frost in an outrageous duet with Malena Ernman, a Swedish mezzo-soprano. But he is also a master of the subtler strains of Mozart, as he showed at Zankel Hall three years ago in a performance of the Clarinet Quintet as part of a residency there by the Risor Chamber Music Festival of Norway.

       Like that account, Mr. Frost’s reading of the Mozart concerto was a paragon of lyricism: breathtaking in its pianissimos, utterly fluid in its legatos, gleaming in its ornamental flourishes. A close replica can be heard on Mr. Frost’s new recording of Mozart clarinet works for the BIS label.

       What cannot be heard there, alas, is the spectacular Carnegie encore, which began as a modest improvisation on licks from Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” and opened into two riotous outbursts of klezmerlike note-spinning, ranging mercurially from the most delicate and attenuated to the most raucous, with the orchestra jamming alongside. Between the two performances Mr. Frost exhibited a virtuosity and a musicianship unsurpassed by any clarinetist — perhaps any instrumentalist — in my memory.

      At the opposite emotional extreme, Fine’s “Serious Song” was offered in tribute to athe centenary of the composer, who was born in Boston on Dec. 3, 1914, and died there in 1962, respected by colleagues like Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein. Subtitled “A Lament for String Orchestra,” the nine-minute piece works its way through an anguished supersaturated late Romanticism reminiscent of Schoenberg’s “Transfigured Night” to find a tentative peace in a sort of shimmering Stravinskian Neo-Classicism.

      Here, as in Handel’s Concerto Grosso in F (Op. 6, No. 2) and Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 in A, the Orpheus players achieved their usual unanimity of style and purpose, proudly conductorless. Not that the hyperkinetic Mr. Frost was having any of that: He left nothing to chance in the concerto, throwing broad cues all around when not otherwise occupied, ducking and darting with his head, swooping with his shoulders, swinging his body.

      The players seemed to love him all the same, and the audience loudly made clear that it did, too.



7 December 2013

2nd Annual Rowan College Clarinet Day with VIP Ricardo Morales, Rei Suzuki, Director 

Glassboro, New Jersey USA

1 December 2013

Clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein performs a Concert of Jewish Chamber Music with friends Erin Keefe Nick, CanellakisTien-Hsin, Cindy WuCharles, YangTim Lovelace at the Kennedy Center in - .  With much gratitude to Pro Musica Hebraica for preserving this music!

 Washington, DC USA



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Revised: December 16, 2013