Review of Dress Rehearsal at 3 p.m. South Concregational Church, Kennebunkport, ME.
Oboist Kathleen McNerny and Dean Stein, violin and viola player (VentiCordi) with guests: Pianist Bridget Convey, Clarinetist Gary Gorczyca, Violist Russell Wilson and Cellist Katherine Cherbas. With generous outreach to the future, guest student Shelby Helman, oboe, was invited to be a participant.
A memorable first on the program: an enchanting strain from Gary Gorczyca's clarinet opened Alvin Etler's "Sonata for Oboe, Clarinet and Viola." The clarinetist explained to me during a rehearsal break that Etler (1913-1973) has "flown under the radar for a long time" but that his work is being programmed more often. It was a first for me. I found the pleasant texture of the Etler harmonies quite similar to Hindemith with whom he had studied. Imagine night time city sounds and this may have inspired the program title.
A couple of times the role of Clarinetist Gary Gorczyca stood out almost like that of a soloist; then he blended with whatever ensemble he was complementing at the time. Always impressed by the peers whom McNerney and Stein invite to perform with them at their own level, for some reason this time I found today's clarinetist to be outstanding. His credits state that his presence on the Boston music scene is ubiquitous. He is understandably in demand.
"London Trio for Two Oboes and Cello" by Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809) must have inspired the title of this concert. While the first piece may have recreated the sounds of cities, this was named for one. YouTube shows the piece with different instrumentation if you are curious. In the dress rehearsal, there was an oboe reed problem that was nicely taken care of. That is what rehearsals are for. Sound balanced better after replacement.
Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano, K. 498 "Kegelstadt" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) Andante, Menuetto and Rondo is what the program announced. Because Kegel was unfamiliar to me as a city, out of sheer curiosity I researched it online.
It turns out that "Kegelstadt" was a typo somewhere in the past and it does not refer to a city at all. Kegelstatt with a double "t" is a place where skittles are played, similar to a duck pin bowling alley, where Mozart wrote the piece. The composer inscribed the work with the following: (from Wikepedia) "Wien, den 27 Julius 1786 untern Kegelscheiben." (Translation: Vienna, July 27, 1786 while playing skittles). A publisher subsequently named it "Kegelstatt".
Regardless, the evening's classical romantic period music programming continued to build, nicely interpreted by Gorczyca, Wilson and Convey, until Intermission. And it was kudos to the clarinet again for setting the emotional tone.
After intermission, the evening audience will have been brought back abruptly to attention by "Grab That" for oboe, violin, cello and piano by Daniel Sonenberg (b. 1970) who is still unknown to Google. This work will soon make Google, personified, sit up and take notice. The onslaught was intentionally shrill in a good way, whereas I had tentatively used the word for another piece before the oboe reed was changed.
Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano by Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) concluded the program. The Hindemith displayed outstanding ensemble work: Massig bewegt (Very animated) sehr langsam ( very slowly) and return to Massig bewegt. Thus the presenters proved once again their skill not only in performance but in programming. Perhaps it will lead to still another year of recognition for Venti Cordi as Reader's Choice in Downeast Magazine.