The 8:00 PM chamber music concert at Curtis last night, the twenty-seventh student recital, was pretty much perfect. It was the last in a series in which established musicians play "along side" students.
Most interesting to me was Ravel's Introduction and Allegro for string quartet, harp, flute, and clarinet with Anthony McGill on clarinet. The harpist, Elizabeth White Clark, was particularly wonderful in a piece which pitted the strings against the winds with the harp in the middle. Two aspects interested me especially--unison passages where one string and one wind, i.e. the flute and viola, play together, and duets where a lower voice such as the cello is placed above a higher one, such as the viola. This is very much fun for the listener. Ravel wrote this in 1905, before WWI and the severe he got from driving a truck for the French forces at Verdun, and sounds more like Debussy. The sonata for violin and cello which we heard on Monday night was post-war and sounds more like Stravinsky.
Then Mozart's E-flatmajor "Kegelstatt" Trio K.498. This one featured viola, clarinet and Piano though sometimes its played with the cello instead of the viola as in the recording I have with Yo Yo Ma. Brahms and Beethoven also wrote for this combination and it's all terrific. Coming after the Ravel, it makes quite an impression, more interesting than programming the earlier work first. All three players were excellent and the pianist had especially clear and crisp runs which I loved. They well deserved their ovation from the packed crowd.
Then Steven Tenenbom took the stage in two performances, one of four of the eight Pieces, opus 83, that Max Bruch wrote for Clarinet, viola, and piano, and Franz's D. 703 Quartettsatz. I've heard him for years play viola in the Orion String Quartet but in these pieces he took the lead and it was great. Michael Tree was supposed to play but was ill and Tennenbom sat in. He was a joy to hear. Anna Polanska sparkled on piano as she always does and MacGill was fine on clarinet.
Finally the massive Trio #3 in C minor by Brahms, a late work, for piano (Polanska again was terrific), violin and piano. Absolutely amazing playing which made me float home. Two concerts there tonight, then off until mid-January.
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