Showing posts with label Benito Meza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Benito Meza. Show all posts

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summing Up the 2014 Delaware Chamber Music Festival

Delaware Chamber Music Festival Quartet, L-R:
Clancy Newman, Burchard Tang, Hirono Oka, Barbara Govatos 
Alas, all things must end — as did the Delaware Chamber Music Festival today (Sunday, June 22, 2014).

The programming must be commended for variety and standards.  Barbara Govatos and friends have consistently chosen works from the past which often are seldom used — either because they are not known or because they are so wildly difficult (such as the Tchaikovsky Trio Opus 50 performed in the first concert) — or they choose women composers who never got a fair shake (e.g., Rebecca Clarke's piece in the second concert themed "The Expressive Viola").  And speaking of fair shake, when you hear such artists as Burchard Tang and Che-Hung Chen play the viola up close and personal, it shows the audience that the viola deserves a role as solo instrument.

The incredible ability of Marcantonio Barone and the joy with which he and Charles Abramovic tore through excerpts of the Brahms Hungarian Dances for piano, four hands; the energy and excitement of Benito Meza's clarinet giving new impetus to Louise Farrenc (a woman composer who DID get a fair shake, but was later relegated to the attic); the introduction of new works by Clancy Newman and Kenji Bunch.  All are enough to make this series an experiment in innovative programming for some of the best musicians in the region.  How lucky we are, too, that The Music School of Delaware is such an acoustically inviting venue, convenient to Wilmington and Philadelphia as well as points south.

The first concert in the Festival (Friday, June 13) featured a chestnut — Beethoven's Piano Trio in E-flat major, Opus 1, No. 1 — played with daring and flawless passion by Govatos, Clancy Newman and Marcantonio Barone.  The introduction of a piece so hard it is rarely performed — Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio in A minor, Opus 50 — was a distinctive treat.

The second concert (Sunday, June 15) let the viola shine with a stellar performance of Rebecca Clarke's Sonata for viola and piano.  It also included the Lament for two violas in c minor by Frank Bridge and the Brahms' String quintet in G major, Opus 111.  This concert let us hear more of Burchard Tang's fine viola playing as well as that of Che-Hung Chen.

The third concert (Friday, June 20) was entitled Fresh Ink! as it featured the US Premiere of Clancy Newman's Collision Course for piano, clarinet and cello (2013).  Guest clarinet player Benito Meza not only put his fresh energy to work on the new piece by Newman, but also breathed new life into the Trio for clarinet, cello and piano in E-flat major, Opus 44 by Louise Farrenc.  The performance of the 2002 Broken Music for cello and piano by Kenji Bunch was also a new experience, with Bartok fretboard slapping on the cello by Newman and damping of hammers by Marcantonio Barone.  But the boyish vigor with which Charles Abramovic and Barone gleefully played the excerpts of Brahms' 21 Hungarian Dances for piano, four hands, was the freshest 'ink' of the evening.

The final concert (Sunday, June 22) was all string quartets, performed by the Festival Quartet themselves.  They coordinate so well to communicate Franz Josef Haydn's jokes, Dvorak's passion and Schubert's complex and often operatic sounding works.  Each has a special gift that is hard to describe.  Hirono Oka, so shy and quiet in person, pushes her violin bow to create a round, secure, sometimes aggressive sound.  Burchard Tang had some very high and exciting lines, sometimes in duet with the violin and sometimes with the cello.  Clancy Newman had cello notes which soared high in the range with ease and his smooth sound belied his ability to rock out for Broken Music and his own Collision Course.  DCMF Music Director Barbara Govatos, who manages everything from reception cookies to recognizing her music students from decades past, puts all those thoughts down when she bows her head to decide on her tempo and expression before each movement of the grand Schubert quartet.

How sad that we have to wait one more year to hear more!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Music 'Collides' in This Year's Chamber Music Festival

Composer & Cellist, Clancy Newman
By Guest Blogger, Chuck Holdeman

Chuck is a regional composer of lyrical, contemporary classical music, including opera, orchestral music, songs, chamber music, and music for film.

Friday evening (June 20, 2014) witnessed the American Premiere of Clancy Newman's Collision Course as part of the third program of the annual Delaware Chamber Music Festival, held at The Music School of Delaware in Wilmington. Collision is in one movement, scored for clarinet, piano, and with Newman playing the 'cello. It is a very listenable work with considerable expressive range, and the audience loved it — their applause accented by enthusiastic bravos. The intense young virtuoso clarinetist was Columbian Benito Meza, and the perpetually masterful Philadelphia pianist was Marcantonio Barone, who also read Newman's poem about the piece, a dramatic and appealing scenario about three musicians on separate ships approaching and then separating.

Newman sometimes performs in Australia, where he received the commission to write his new trio. On the long flight home over the ocean, he had the vision which provided the form for his trio. It reminded me of Charles Ives, the American original and composer of enduring music, who loved it when his bandmaster father arranged for three marching bands playing different music to converge. Some call it cacophony, but Ives made it work and composed much music with several seemingly disparate things happening at once. Newman's approach was a bit different, in that when the three musics do finally converge, the three voices gradually start playing together in a boisterous and celebratory unity. One of my favorite sections was just before the total convergence when the three kinds of music are still distinct and clashing with each other a bit as they grope toward consensus.

I know it is true that part of the fun for the audience was knowing the story in advance and then being able to follow the scenario as it played out in sound. I also felt, with the wisdom of hindsight, that I would have enjoyed hearing the piece knowing nothing about it, and then trying to figure out what was going on. In that case, when the three instrumental styles/ships separate after the collision, it would not be predictable and therefore more mysterious. I also felt that the clarinet "personality" was less defined and arresting as compared with Spain-inspired ardor of the 'cello music and the cocktail charm and finesse of the piano music.

Newman is a great performer, and as a composer he has terrific stage instincts — how to grasp and hold an audience. As we leave the era of modern classical music which seemed not to care much about the listener, I applaud this composer/performer, who so warmly embraces his audience.

There is one more remaining concert in this series: Sunday, June 22, at 3:00pm, and Newman will be there with the Festival Quartet regulars, performing music by Haydn, Dvorak, and Schubert.