Joseph Shiner/Frederick Brown
This coffee concert featured Joseph Shiner (clarinet) and Frederick Brown (piano) who complemented each other extremely well throughout the programme; definitely a partnership more than a duo in the presentation of the works, rather than soloist and accompanist.
The programme covered a wide variety of styles of composition beginning with Schumann’s Fantasiestücke involving lengthy sustained passages from the clarinet (where does he breathe?) with a sensitive piano accompaniment interspersed with passages that have an echo between the instruments and those where both are playing along together.
Whichever section they were playing today’s performers had no friction between them but instead brought imagination of best friends playing games together even if the music was originally intended for evening performances.
Continuing the Festival’s airing of new works the second piece in the concert was Amra Nanga which was written by Ben Comeau. Joseph Shiner is building a reputation for playing new work and he was perfectly relaxed as they played this short piece. As he described it – something completely different – this it was but none-the-less sitting comfortably in the programme.
A diptique with contrasting moods and tonality evoking different pictures in the mind. Music always means different things to different people and no doubt this was a prime example but to me it conjured rippling streams and wind causing rustling in the trees.
There was a return to the more usual classical repertoire for the third piece which was Brahms’ Clarinet Sonata in F Minor. This is a real tour de force for the clarinet but today the rendering seemed comparatively effortless whatever the tempo or dynamic and the piano accompaniment blended admirably. The delicate quiet passages were a particular joy to hear.
So to the final piece with another complete change of atmosphere in the form of Gershwin’s Three Preludes. These were unmistakeable as to the identity of the composer as there were hints throughout of some of his more “operatic” work especially Porgy and Bess – perhaps not surprising when they were originally performed within lieder concerts.
The change of genre of music did not faze the performers who seemed to relish the excitement of the different rhythms.
The audience greatly appreciated the performance and the rapturous applause was rewarded with a reprise of one Gershwin prelude, although I’m sure that they would have liked more.