I had a blast playing an all Mozart recital at my home last night. Working with a mix of dear friends, talented colleagues and new-found talents in Columbus, I can't imagine a better evening for a musician.
This was the second in what I hope will become a regular series of concerts. The program, "Mmiraculous Mmozart- The Deliciousness of Mozart's Music" (inspired by chocolate truffles) came together as a combination of pieces we wanted to play and people I wanted to work with.
The Clarinet Trio of Mozart, K 498, is a piece I have wanted to play with Brett Allen, assistant principal viola with the Columbus Symphony, since we decided to do some recitals together a few years ago. The viola-clarinet-piano combination has several substantial works written for it. In March, 2007 we performed the romantic and brooding Max Bruch "Eight Pieces" for viola, clarinet and piano with Dianne Frazer. Another delightful work for that combination is the Schumann "Fairy Tales", which we look forward to performing in the future.
Tonight we played the "Kegelstatt" ("bowling alley" nicknamed for where Mozart is said to have conceived the piece) Trio with pianist Ahlin Min, a talented new face in the Columbus music scene. Ahlin moved to Columbus with her husband, Noah, last year, after graduating from Indiana University, where she studied with Menahem Pressler, founding member of the Beaux Arts Trio. Ahlin came to my attention at the suggestion of pianist Nina Polansky, wife of Leonid, Assistant Concertmaster of the CSO. I have to say, Ahlin Min has earned my full respect as a musician after tonight's concert, having performed an intricate and demanding part with impressive technical and musical alacrity. Along with Brett's top notch viola playing, the synergy among the three of us led, in my opinion, to a convincing and detailed reading of Mozart's lighthearted masterpiece.
For the second part of the program, the famous Mozart Quintet, I was joined by Robert Firdman, violin, longtime friend, colleague and passionate musician from the CSO; Orieta Dado, a gifted violinist and amazing friend and Associate member of the our orchestra; Brett Allen, mentioned above; and Mark Kosmala, cello, another shining star among the Associate players of the orchestra. Let it be known that the Associates of the Columbus Symphony contribute to the brunt of serious music making by adding their expertise and passion to virtually all of our major classical series concerts. They may be part time by definition, but their music making is full time for our orchestra.
It was a revelation for me as a wind player to rehearse this piece with four string players who have never played together as a quartet. I learned a great deal about the intricacies of string playing. Primary among those techniques, the discussion of bowing, whether to bow up or down for a particular passage, continued through the last moment of rehearsal. I began to get a feel for the significance of each bow stroke, up or down, and how it contributed to the shape of the phrase. Up bow is more anticipatory in tone and phrasing; down bow more emphatic and directed.
The performance found us all coming together in spirit and technique. Some parts could have been better, as they always can, but the output of these players, from beginning to end of this intimately impromptu recital, was nothing short of 110%. Personally, I experienced moments of blissful music making which cannot be surpassed, and I have my friends to thank for joining in that collaboration. I am honored and pleased to have been able to make music with these fine artists. We are already talking about our next venture into the rich repertoire of chamber music available.
Our loving and enthusiastic audience, which numbered at least 35, filled the West Dunedin house with careful attention during the performance and a healthy applause after. All of us, audience and performers, maintained our focus even during the unexpected soliloquy by my kitchen smoke alarm. (the oven had to be turned on ahead of time to prepare the post concert h'ours dourves) Members of the audience promptly dismantled the noisy interloper while the music continued. However, we all agreed that a repeat of the ending of the Quintet sans piercing beeping was in order.
My sincerest thanks goes out to all who participated in the music making and music appreciating during this lovely Sunday evening in early May. I was doing what I loved doing; making music with and for those who loved it. And despite all the hubbub in Columbus, Ohio about whether it can (or should) afford a good orchestra, I am convinced that the music is what really matters, at least to those who attended tonight.
Many thanks to all those who helped with planning, invitations, food, underwriting and recording, including among many others: the Columbus Symphony Orchestra League, the Women's Association of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Strong, John and Valerie Gibbs, Gayla and Robert Ebersole, Grace Sharp, Joseph Sarah, Jan Ryan, Phyllis and Randy Hester, Frank and Ann Hurd Thomas and Steve Bennett.