Friday, April 2, 2010

Heights Arts: Bach By Request (House Concert Series)

at the Barrie residence, Herrick Mews, Cleveland Heights.

Giuliani: Gran Duetto Concertante for Flute and Guitar, Op. 85
Weber: Quintet in B-flat Major for Clarinet and String Quartet, Op. 34
Bach: Lute Suite No. 3 in A Minor (Originally G Minor)
Boccherini: Quintet No. 4 in D-major, for Guitar and String Quartet, G. 488
Jason Vieaux, guitar; Franklin Cohen, clarinet; Marisela Sager, flute; Sae Shiragami and Isabel Trautwein, violin; Joanna Patterson, viola; Tanya Ell, cello.

In introducing the program Ms . Trautwein likened all four pieces to dessert and I can not think of a more apt description myself. The playing was impeccable and passes without need for cirtical commentary; all four went down quite easily and offered enough variety that each could be considered "the best" for its own reasons.

Of course, given the intimacy of the house concert format it's difficult not to get caught up in the excitement that comes with having world-renown musicians (with the exception of Mr. Vieaux, all members of the Cleveland Orchestra) playing mere feet from your ears. Tonight's concert the last of three in this season's series was particularly fun with everyone letting his or her hair down.

Having never heard classical guitar before, Mr. Vieaux's playing was amazing to hear as was his brief background for the pieces he played. I was particularly intrigued by the background of Bach's Lute Suite and the Lautenwerk, a nearly extinct essentially keyboard-based lute (If I'm recalling correctly).

Mr. Cohen is always a pleasure to listen to and has quickly become as one of my favorite musicians thanks to a certain je ne sais quois quality to his playing. While he's best known for his clarinet work, tonight the gathered audicence was introduced to his tambourine playing and dancing (along with Ms. Sager) during the final movement of Boccherini's Quintet. It was interesting to hear his explanation on the evolution of the clarinet from its simplified original form to the modern type; it was likewise stunning to hear that the piece was completed only a day before its premiere--talk about cutting a deadline close!

Playful banter abounded (Ms. Patterson was a tad bit tardy making her way to the makeshift stage for one piece, then the first by a mile for the next where she joyfully announced this; Ms. Trautwein commented that Severance Hall's "Break Bell" is an A=440 bell-- and lamented the effect of seasonal climate changes on stringed instruments' ability to stay in tune. (I feel her pain. Boy do I feel her pain.) Mr. Cohen added that normally they shoulder the blame for being out of tune and that the phenomenon keeps therapists in business.) Ms. Ell perhaps said the least of any of the musicians, yet her body language was just as communicative during the pieces.

It was a fun way to end a busy week: I'm looking forward to what next "season" will have to offer, and if the chatter during intermission was any indication tomorrow evening's Orchestra concert will be just as enjoyable.


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