Friday, June 03, 2011

An Evening of English Music

An Evening of English MusicThursday evening clarinetist Brenden Guy presented a pleasing & well-organized concert of English chamber music. Besides performing, he briefly introduced each piece & described the selections by Finzi, Cooke & Holst as traditionally English & "cute." The performances lived up to this characterization. Mr. Guy & pianist Yeo Jin Seol were lively in the 2 outer movements of Finzi's Five Bagatelles, in which the piano & clarinet lines chase one another. Arnold Cooke's Three Songs of Innocence are pictorial settings of William Blake poems, with the clarinet adding pastoral color. Soprano Indre Viskontas was very at ease & had a high-sounding voice that make me think of the tingling of a small bell. Ian Scarfe was an involved pianist. The musicians truly listened to each other in the Holst Wind Quintet in A-flat, & it sounded like a conversation among friends.

Mr. Guy's playing is generally clear, calm & unfussy, but after the intermission he let himself play out a bit in the virtuosic clarinet sonata by Howells. I liked how he kept the feeling of one long line in the 1st movement. He executed an evil trill in the angular 2nd movement with fluent ease. The concert ended with a splash as Mr. Guy conducted an ensemble of 10 in Britten's precocious Sinfonietta, Op. 1. He maintained a precise beat throughout, & the performance was vivacious. I enjoyed violinist Kevin Rogers's urgent playing & his high duet with 2nd violinist Cassie Bequary. Jason Byszkowski was an alert viola player. Oboist Jesse Barrat made a distinctive, dense tone. It was interesting to notice that Paul Miller had a very different clarinet sound from Mr. Guy.

Mr. Guy beamed cheerfully throughout the entire event. He thanked Karen Ames for being his "American mother," & we got to embarrass her by clapping for her. Happily, the Opera Tattler & SFMike were also in attendance. I had the impression that everyone in the audience had some connection to the performers, so the whole thing felt a bit like a party.

§ An Evening of English Music
Brenden Guy, Clarinet & Conductor

Gerald Finzi: Five Bagatelles
Brenden Guy, clarinet
Yeo Jin Seol, piano

Arnold Cooke: Three Songs of Innocence
Indre Viskontas, soprano
Brenden Guy, clarinet
Ian Scarfe, piano

Gustav Holst: Quintet in Ab Major, op.14
Valinor Winds
Sasha Launer, flute
Jessica Huntsman, oboe
Brenden Guy, clarinet
Alexis Luque, bassoon
Sivan Adato, horn

Herbert Howells: Sonata for Clarinet & Piano
Brenden Guy, clarinet
Keisuke Nakagoshi, piano

Benjamin Britten: Sinfonietta, op.1 for small chamber orchestra
Brenden Guy, conductor
Kevin Rogers, violin
Cassie Bequary, violin
Jason Pyszkowski, viola
Sung Bin Choi, cello
Megan McDevitt, double bass
Sasha Launer, flute
Jesse Barrat, oboe
Paul Miller, clarinet
Micah Standley, bassoon
Sivan Adato, french horn

Thursday, June 2, 2011, at 7:30pm
Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist

No comments: