Wednesday, March 17, 2010

CIM: Faculty Recital (Cohen, Cohen, King, Clouser, Trautwein, Patterson, Ell, Dixon)

Pendereki: Quartet for Clarinet and String Trio*
Hindemith: Clarinet Quintet, op. 30**
Beethoven: Septet in E-flat Major, Op. 20***
*- Diana Cohen, violin; Joanna Patterson, viola; Paul Kushious, cello; Franklin Cohen, clarinet.
** - Isabel Trautwein, Sae Shirigami, violin; Tanya Ell, cello; Franklin Cohen, clarinet
*** - Diana Cohen, violin; Joanna Patterson, viola; Paul Kushious, cello; Scott Dixon, bass; Richard King, horn; John Clouser, bassoon; Franklin Cohen, clarinet.

Before beginning, I have to apologize to Ms. Trautwein for a firmer than expected handshake... I probably shouldn't touch the musicians.

I do believe that this concert may have earned its place as my favorite recital at CIM. I have had the pleasure of hearing many of the fine musicians featured at tonight's recital in similar arrangements previously or as members of the Cleveland Orchestra, yet tonight's recital was a near-perfect blending, of music, energy, and talent. While all of the musicians executed beautiful performances, the Cohens deserve particular note. My only disappointment was that the program -- particularly the first two pieces were devoid of any background information, either program note or announcement from the stage.

Penderecki's quartet was haunting--I conjured the image of a desolate grave yard piece I found myself wondering if Ms. Cohen's fingers could edge any closer to the end of her violin's fingerboard without slipping off the end; to say that she made efficient use of the entire length of the 'E' string may be a slight understatement. Likewise, Mr. Cohen played beautifully and in the fourth movement particularly previewed his excellent tone and control that would be heard in the next piece.

I had heard Hindemith's Clarinet Quintet played by the same musicians in a different venue about a month ago, and what I said remains true; the third movement is still my favorite (inexplicably, tonight's program omitted a listing of movements for this piece, contributing to some bursts of enthusiastic inter-movement applause which were well received by the musicians). I felt that the acoustics of CIM's Kulas Kall better fit the piece and it generally sounded richer in tone and more defined to my ear. Ms. Ell's cello had some prominent passages that I had not noticed during the earlier performance; likewise I had not noticed the well-coordinated almost frenzied playing among the strings at points in the piece. I my ear still couldn't find the lone aberrant note that Mr. Cohen had referenced previously.

And thus we have Beethoven's Septet. The piece was slower than my tastes generally allow, yet the playing was once again hypnotic and lulled me into a wonderful state of musical bliss. The staging caught my eye with the strings and winds challenging each other one on one with the bass playing referee dead center. A low motif was present throughout the piece that seemed to be coming from a different instrument each time I tried to search it out.

At the risk of exposing bias, I don't think the piece would have stood--or received the unanimous acclaim of the assembled audience--without the clarity and precision of the elder and Ms. Cohen. While already quite accomplished, I can only expect great things as her career progresses.

(And for a completely different kind of music, Vitamin String Quartet's version of Alanis Morisette's Ironic is awesome)

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