Sunday, December 03, 2006

Clarinet, Cello and Piano

You would not think there is a great deal of music for such a combination, would you? This afternoon's concert at the Vilnius Arsenalas contained just such a mix, with the American clarinettist Julian Milkis, the Russian cellist Alexei Massarsky and the Russian pianist Nina Kogan. It would appear that Nina Kogan is an aunt of Dmitry Kogan (see previous entry) - see what I mean about Russian dynasties? It seems that Kogan and Milkis have played together in a chamber music festival in the US, but I wonder how often the threesome have played together.

The programme started with Beethoven's septet, reduced to these three. That means that the piano must have taken over the role of the bassoon, horn, violin, viola and double bass. It sounded a bit like that, too. With the clarinet being the highest instrument of the three one expected it to lead in places where it did not. The cellist seemed to have difficulties really joining into the music, and failed to engage; he only really took off in the final movement of this piece - and then he really did! I don't think this version really works very well.

This was followed by a trio by Nino Rota, the relatively contemporary Italian composer (1911-1979). Wikipedia has him down as a film music composer - in fact, Rota wrote much of the music to 'The Godfather'. Considering this piece was was written in 1966, it was really very romantic and at least the first two movements might have been 50 - 100 years older. There were lots of lovely cello lines. No weird noises here, none whatsoever. (Though I have heard that he has written more complicated music as well - maybe it depends who he wrote it for!). This piece was written for this combination of instruments, and it worked well and the group and the audience enjoyed it.

The concert ended with tangos, by Paquito D'Rivera' and Piazzola. These were nice, but played rather straight, although the pianist did her best to add a bit of life, as did the clarinetist. Surely even in Russia people must be exposed to Piazzola these days - but the cellist just did not let himself go, and it did not swing.

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