Monday, October 21, 2013

Transatlantic Crossings

Brenden Guy above is a British clarinetist and a classical music PR fellow for Karen Ames Communications. This year he produced an ambitious music series "to breathe new life into forgotten works" by contemporary composers. Last Friday at the SF Conservatory of Music was the third and final concert of the "Curious Flights" season, as he he is calling it, and it was an invigorating delight.

The concert started with a lushly romantic violin and piano piece by 20+ Berkeley boy composer Dylan Mattingly, played with feeling and beauty by Rene Mandel on violin and Miles Graber on piano.

This was folllowed by the first of three pieces by a contemporary English composer, Edwin Roxburgh, who was supposed to be attending these concerts but who had to withdraw at the last moment. Too bad for Edwin, because the performances of his music were wonderful and committed, including the 1972 Dithyramb I for percusssion and clarinet(s). The 29-year-old English percussionist Nicholas Reed above, with the perfect bedhead hair, kept the audience spellbound as he played a series of duets with Brenden on his succession of clarinets.

Larry London, who is actually a local SF Bay composer, had his 1998 Scenes from Dobashi played next. It was a suite taken from a puppet play that has never been performed, and the music is so evocative as background music that I kept wanting to shout out, "Let us see the puppet play." Nicholas Reed played the percussion part on a number of instruments that included empty paint cans. His expressive eyebrows as he helped to cue his fellow musicians were priceless.

And what wonderful fellow musicians he had. Besides Brenden Guy on clarinet, Tess Varley on violin was extraordinary and not just because she had the most perfect concert shoes of the year.

After intermission, there was a solo percussion piece by Roxburgh called Aube which was written for Nicholas when he was 15. The piece is inspired by a Rimbaud poem, and Reed inhabited/performed it with playful mastery.

The final piece, How Pleasant to Know Mr Lear, was for orchestra and amplified speaker, a suite of six Edward Lear poems that became stranger and more beautiful as it went along. Thank you, Brenden Guy, and I hope this series continues in one form or another.


Mike Wallach said...

Sorry I missed this. It sounds great.

Hattie said...

They are all very attractive. But I have problems with the "bare" sound of the clarinet.
I went to a concert last week that I should have enjoyed, but the group was very dour and the late Beethoven quartet was too esoteric for me to get into on an evening late in the week.
Since I seldom get to go to concerts this was a real disappointment.