Wednesday, February 9, 2011

CIM Faculty Recital: Cohen/Docter/Ell/Kosower/Kwoun/Smirnoff

Reger: Clarinet Quintet in A Major, Op. 146 (1916)
Franklin Cohen, clarinet; Diana Cohen, Eli Matthews, violin; Kirsten Docter, viola; Mark Kosower, cello.
Brahms: Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115 (1891)
Franklin Cohen, clarinet; Joan Kwuon, Joel Smirnoff, violin; Kirsten Docter, viola; Tanya Ell, cello.

While studying the violin one thing my teacher keeps reminding me of to help with intonation is to check my notes against the open strings, looking for a resonance in which the entire instrument seems to vibrate with an almost frightening energy. Tonight was one of those relatively rare concerts in which the musicians imparted that feeling of resonance not only in their instruments but in the audience.

Though I'm still feeling off my game -- but much better than I was at Friday's faculty recital -- being a great fan of Mr. and Ms. Cohen and Ms. Ell, I couldn't resist the urge to attend, joined by a handful of friends. Despite high expectations, I was not disappointed.

A person close to the music had warned me that the Reger wasn't easy to get on the first listen. Though I've since learned of a change in programming, I had originally expected to hear this piece a second time during the concert on February 20th and wasn't listening as critically as I might have been otherwise. Nonetheless, it was an amazing piece that while I might not have entirely "gotten" I really enjoyed listening to. From the first notes that internal resonance buoyed the soul and left me tingling for most of the piece.

While one of my concert habits is to close my eyes and try to pick out the sounds of one musician or instrument, the harmony was so cohesive and well that every time I tried to do this and well balanced that each time I tried to do this I failed. Worth noting is that this is the first time I've heard Mr. Kosower, the still relatively new principal cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra.

The second piece on the program, Brahms' Clarinet Quintet, Op. 115 would have been stunning on nearly any other program -- and indeed was stunning on this program. While it imparted that wondrous feeling I described above, it wasn't quite as strong as the Reger; the first two movements left me with a sense of anger and sorrow, respectively and I'm not sure I was in the most receptive mood for that, however at a few points during these movements delightful passages from Mr. Smirnoff and Ms. Kwuon caused my ear to perk up. Beginning with the third movement (with the somewhat verbose notation Andantino; Presto non assia, ma con sentiment), and particularly following a beautiful passage lead by Ms. Ell's beautiful notes the blissful feeling from earlier in the concert was back to full strength.

Worth noting is that this was the first time I've heard CIM President Mr. Smirnoff play aside from a brief and decidedly not classical contribution after a Cleveland Orchestra Fridays@7 concert.

It was, in short, the type of concert that one may attends uncountable "fair" dozens of "good" and even a few "great" concerts in the hope of finding.


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