Sunday, October 21, 2007

Abyss and Trio

Sylvie Beaudoin/William Jenken/Peter Minkler Trio @ An Die Musik, Baltimore, MD
Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sylvie Beaudoin: piano
William Jenken: clarinet
Peter Minkler: viola

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
: Kegelstatt for piano, viola and clarinet
Olivier Messiaen: Abyss of the Birds for clarinet (from Quatuor Pour la Fin du Temps)
Henri Vieuxtemps: Capriccio for viola
Thomas Benjamin: Tangissimo! for clarinet, viola and piano
Jean Francaix: Trio for clarinet, viola and piano

One can hear the birds just outside Olivier Messiaen's 1940 German POW prison immortalized in Abyss of the Birds, the third movement, composed as a clarinet solo, from his Quartet for the End of Time. Balanced against long crescendos of single notes that emerge from silence and an expansive use of the range of the instrument the longing for the freedom of the birds is clear. William Jenken's performance of this movement conveyed the sense of longing while reinforcing the qualities that make this Messiaen work so enduring and "timeless."

With Mozart, I am well within the Charles Ives camp that finds his music too pretty and delicate for the contemporary pallet. Kegelstatt featured the regular phrasing and cadences one expects to hear from the Classical master along with a smattering of Alberti bass. All of it well arranged, and extraordinarily well balanced in this particular performance. While I still haven't developed a taste for Mozart, live experiences such as this one are an ideal way to hear and re-examine one's opinions of it.

Jean Francaix's Trio is a beautifully detailed work that was performed with great musicality for such a challenging piece. The deliberate "stumbling" rhythm used to break up the regular shuffling highlighted the deft interplay between the performers. It certainly piqued my curiosity to hear more of this French composer's music.

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