Tuesday, February 21, 2012

CIM: Variations on Virtuosity (@CIM_edu)

Poulenc: Sonata for Violin and Piano (Mvt II and III), FP 119¹²
Grgin: Concerto for Clarinet (Mvt II and III)²³
Kreisler: Recitative and Scherzo-Carpirice, Op. 6ª
Farr: Wakatipu for  solo violinª
Weber: Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, Op 26°^
¹- Brandon Garbot, violin; ²- Samantha Biniker, piano; ³- Nikola Djurica, clarinet; ª- Natalie Lin, violin; °- Elinor Rufeizen, clarinet; ^- Rafael Skorka,  piano.
Hosted by Astri Seidenfeld and Rose Wong, at the Seidenfeld Residence.

With one exception the performers featured tonight will be traveling to Washington tomorrow to participate in an event at the Kennedy Center as representatives of the  Cleveland Institute of Music. That event will be on the Internet live Wednesday at 6:00 PM-- but tonight's intimate event was a fantastic preview.

The concert opened with high school senior (and CIM preparatory student) violinist Brandon Garbot and accompanist Samantha Brinker playing two movements from Francis Poulenc's  Sonata for Violin and Piano. This performance started with the second movement and I was immediately struck and pulled in by Mr. Garbot's rich tone and both Mr. Garbot and Ms. Biniker's passioned playing. Along with a romantic feeling, I was taken by elusive flutters of notes amongst pleasantly sustained notes. The third movement, by comparison had a frantic eel and I was amazed by the speed that both musicians were able to impart without the slightest loss of clarity; the movement has a somewhat dark feeling (as one might suspect from the presto tragico tempo notation) and the sense of sudden loss is especially magnified by the end of the piece.

The program continued with clarinetist Nikola Djurica joining Ms. Biniker for the second and third movements of Ante Grgin's Concerto for Clarinet and to call Ms. Biniker's playing anything less than tremendously beautiful would be a disservice. The second movement's clarinet seemed to be searching but the real glory came from the third (Vivo) movement where the jazzy lead of Mr. Djurica's clarinet was echoed in the piano and it was completely clear both musicians were getting into the spirit of the piece and even the page turner was clearly enjoying himself.

Taking a turn of the more dramatic we find ourselves with Natalie Lin, a violinist from New Zealand, with Fritz Kreisler's Recitative and Scherzo-Caprice which was warm but certainly of a more serious tone -- at least initially -- as the piece progressed, there was a delightful intrusion whose influence I couldn't place initially, almost folksy, but when it reappeared it seemed distinctly Asian (Chineese?) combined with a judicious use of ricochet bowing and flickeringly fast fingering made this piece quite fun to listen to.

Continuing the solo violin, Ms. Lin introduced Gareth Far's Wakatipu. Inspired by a lake of the same name, legend has it the New Zealend Lake Wakatipu's unusual rise and fall is caused by the beating hart of a demon. The ethereal begining of the piece conjured images  of fog over a quiet lake but the inextinguishable beating heart of the deamon quickly surfaces in the piece and there seemed to be a bit of a struggle with the deamon. (And as Rachel commented, some of that struggle occassionally reached ear-piercing highs)

Bringing the official evening to a close, clarinetest Elinor Rufeizen joined with pianist Rafael Skorka for Carl Maria von Weber's Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra. Before the first note was played it looked almost as if Ms. Rufeizen was channeling anger; though the beginning wasn't bright it certainly wasn't angry and the piece shortly turned happier with a more pure energy. The energy turned into a a bit of a frenzy with visits of relative tranqulity before settling slow and deep. The piece and the program ended gently happliy.

As a post-concert reception was winding down, notes from the living room piano captured the remaining guests ears and lured us back in where we found Ms. Rufeizen and Mr. Skorka simultaneously playing a jazzy piano piece, referring to sheet music courtesy of an iPad (I have to wonder... does that make it Pad Music instead of Sheet Music?)


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