Friday, May 22, 2015

Salon at the Rex: Farallon Quintet

Wednesday evening in the Salon at the Rex I heard the Farallon Quintet present a program featuring the Mozart clarinet quintet. 1st violinist Dan Flanagan introduced the group as the 1st professional ensemble devoted to the clarinet quintet repertoire. So far they know of 600 pieces written for this particular configuration, besides the well-known examples by Mozart, Brahms & Weber.

Their program began with Chad Cannon's Citizen 13660 - Vignettes, a work commissioned by the quintet. Mr. Cannon is based in Los Angeles & works for Hollywood as well as composing for the concert hall. The piece is comprised of 8 short movements, lasting about 20 minutes altogether. 2nd violinist Matthew Oshida explained that the titles of each movement come from Citizen 13660, the illustrated memoir by Miné Okubo about her experience as an interned Japanese American during World War II. The strings play a lot of simmering arpeggios, with a slow melody sometimes on top. The music is specific in depicting flurries of dust or the clanging of bells. The overall mood is sad & rueful. Clarinetist Natalie Parker made a clean, even sound that blended with the strings, & her playing seemed effortless.

I enjoyed hearing Mozart's brilliant clarinet quintet in the small salon space. It was like having the right-sized frame around a great picture. The quintet's tempos were flexible & slightly pushed, & the musicians clearly listened to each other. Mr. Flanagan's playing was forward & bright. Cellist Jonah Kim made every moment of his part look rewarding to play, & his phrasing was detailed & assertive. The quintet captured the humor of the Menuetto, & Ms. Parker lightly played a little cadenza in the final movement.

For an encore we heard Satie's Gymnopédie No.1, arranged by Mr. Flanagan for the clarinet on the melody. The arrangement sounded distinct from the piano version & worked well. As is customary at these events, there was an affable Q&A with the musicians afterward.

§ Farallon Quintet
Natalie Parker, clarinet
Dan Flanagan, violin
Matthew Oshida, violin
Elizabeth Prior, viola
Jonah Kim, cello

Chad Cannon (1985 - )
Citizen 13660 - Vignettes

Wolfgang Amadeus Moart (1756 - 1791)
Quintet in A Major for Clarinet and Strings, K. 581


Erik Satie (1866 - 1925)
Gymnopédie No.1
Arranged by Dan Flanagan

Salon at the Rex
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Hotel Rex

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