Clarinet Music of Rota & Brahms
Rota Trio and Sonata Rota was born in Milan and was a child prodigy, writing an oratorio at the age of 11. He went on to compose numerous concerti, orchestral, chamber and choral works as well as many film scores, notably for Franco Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet", Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather", and Federico Fellini's "8 ½". Fellini is quoted as saying: "'(Rota) was someone who had a rare quality belonging to the world of intuition . . . as soon as he arrived, stress disappeared, everything turned into a festive atmosphere; the movie entered a joyful, serene, fantastic period, a new life.' Perhaps as a result of his success in film, Rota has seldom been taken seriously as a composer. His two Clarinet works are remarkable pieces that combine exceptional lyrical beauty with an occasionally-uneasy 20th century "edge". The Trio for clarinet, cello and piano was written towards the end of Rota's life. The opening movement is uncharacteristically harsh for Rota, starting and ending in a brusque, aggressive and dissonant fashion, occasionally interspersed with calmer moments. The second movement has a soulful and haunting quality. The finale is pure unrestrained delight: rollicking, witty, and to paraphrase Fellini, joyful and festive. The Clarinet sonata, an earlier work than the Trio, displays Rota's exceptional ability to exploit the lyrical and expressive qualities of the Clarinet throughout it's range. The central movement is dark, poignant and occasionally anxious in character. The outer movements are both marked "scorrevole" (flowing), and true to their titles, feature long, flowing, liquid melodies that ripple back and forth between the two instruments. Brahms Trio Brahms' Clarinet Trio dates from 1891, when he had achieved the kind of stature and fame rarely experienced by living composers. In that year he met Richard Muhlfeld, a clarinet virtuoso who by all accounts could make the instrument sing with a dark, soulful voice that caused Brahms to experience some kind of epiphany. In his letters Brahms called the performer "Fraulein Klarinette", "my primadonna" and even "Fraulein von Muhlfeld". Brahms embraced Fraulein Klarinette with a passion, and as with his previous frauleins, this passion inspired him to write some of his greatest chamber music: the Clarinet Trio, the Clarinet Quintet and the two Clarinet Sonatas. The Clarinet Trio treats each instrument as an equal partner. In the first movement the Cello takes the lead in introducing the two main themes and sets up a trialogue that continues throughout the work. Dreamy and reflective musical ideas give way to unsettling and troubled passages. In the critic Alex Ross' words: "happiness and sadness alternate unpredictably and the emotional reality lies somewhere in between". In the second movement the clarinet introduces a peaceful and tranquil theme that is taken up by the cello, and the two instruments then engage in a quietly playful dialogue. In the third movement Brahms wakes us from our trance with a pleasant flowing andante that unexpectedly breaks into a delightful peasant dance (landler), reflecting his lifelong passion for folk music. The final movement is something completely different. Soft lyrical passages give way impulsively to sudden bursts of energy and aggressiveness, particularly in the piano part. Rhythms are deliberately syncopated, themes are broken into fragments and bounce around from one instrument to another, culminating in a rousing finale. Karen Wong, Piano Karen Wong has performed as a soloist in North America and Europe. She obtained her diploma in piano performance (A.R.C.T.) from the Royal Conservatory of Music of Canada at the age of 13. In 1997, she graduated with honors in piano performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. She has recorded for radio and television with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In addition, she holds a Master of Arts from New York University, and a Master of Occupational Therapy degree from the University of British Columbia. Lee Duckles, Cello Lee Duckles, Principal Cellist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for over 25 seasons, received his early training in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a graduate of the University of Illinois, An active teacher, chamber musician, and recitalist, he has performed in music festivals in BC, Ontario, Alaska, Washington, California, Colorado, and South Korea. In Vancouver, Mr. Duckles has enjoyed an association with the Vancouver Academy of Music, The University of British Columbia, the Vancouver New Music Society - (a founding performer), the Masterpiece Music Series, the Encore Piano Trio, and The Vancouver Chamber Players. Stanis Smith, Clarinet Stanis Smith was born and educated in South Africa, studied clarinet with Mario Trinchero, and immigrated to Canada in 1986. He has a Licentiate from Trinity College London (LTCL), and has performed as a chamber music player, soloist, and orchestral musician in North America and South Africa. In addition, he is an Architect and Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.