Day By Day

Monday, May 09, 2011

A Concert of Mishaps

Last weekend "She Who Must Not Be Named" and I accompanied some friends to the latest in the Shriver Hall Concert Series. The featured artist was clarinetist Gleb Kanasevich, a remarkable young talent. It was one of the most fun concerts we had attended in recent years, mostly because everything that could go wrong did, and Gleb was more than able to deal with the sequential challenges.

The first piece on the program was an old standard, Bach's "Sonata No. 2 in E-flat Major for Flute and Harpsichord". It was a bit different from what you usually hear because it was performed by Clinton Adams on piano and Gleb on E-flat clarinet, but was nicely done. The same two performers then did "Five Dance Preludes for Clarinet and Piano" by Witold Lutoslawski, which was more to my taste. I was starting to really enjoy the program.

Then things began to go agley. Next on the program was Andre Jolivet's "Sonatine for Flute and Clarinet" with Elena Yakovleva joining Gleb on the stage. Unfortunately, Ms. Yakovleva was still en route to the concert hall, so Gleb and Dr. Adams  performed instead a short piece by Camille Saint Saens that did not go very well. It was clear that they had not been able to rehearse the piece. Still, both were fine musicians and the piece was pleasant.

Then came intermission during which Gleb reappeared on stage to announce that there was yet another change to the program. He was scheduled to perform Mozart's "Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in A Major", but some of the string players had not appeared. So he was going to improvise, performing two pieces that did not need external accompaniment. The first of these, Valentin Silvestrov's "Misterioso", was scored for piano and clarinet and Gleb proposed to perform both parts himself. Here is a video of Gleb rehearsing the piece. Weird, but impressive. I liked it. I was also struck how much it, like many modern chamber pieces, sounded like the sound track to a horror film.Things were starting to get really interesting.

Gleb then announced that his next piece would be Steve Reich's "New York Counterpoint" which he would perform backed by ten clarinet parts he had previously recorded, but first he had to take care of  some "technical problems" with his instrument. He left the stage.

A few minutes later he reappeared accompanied by a beautiful young woman and announced yet another change in the program. Elena Yakovleva had finally arrived and they would be performing the Jolivet piece they had originally promised. Here's how it sounded.

With that the concert, and the seemingly endless series of mishaps, came to an end. It was an interesting experience. I was impressed by the virtuosity of the young man and his ability to substitute appropriate pieces from his repertoire -- ones that did not rely upon accompaniment. Discussing it afterwards we all agreed that we had thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Our congratulations to Mr. Kanasevich, may his career flourish. I expect it will.

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