New Music for Clarinet, Piano, and Electronics
New York Composers Circle concert
Benzaquen Hall at DiMenna Center, NYC
October 24th, 2014
A concert review
Written by Roger Blanc
The New York Composers Circle kicked off its 2014-15 Season with “New Music for Clarinet, Piano, and Electronics”, a Friday evening concert in the upstairs space of the DiMenna Center in Manhattan. Jacob E. Goodman’s “Six Intermezzi” for piano performed by Craig Ketter began the program. Goodman, NYCC’s founder, showed his propensity for elegant modernist classicism in this well-wrought work, ably performed by Mr. Ketter. Peri Mauer’s “Morning, Night, & Noon” for clarinet duo followed next, juxtaposing a flexible and creative treatment of this pairing of instruments with the engaging spectacle of their quality performance by the duo of Vasko Dukovski and Ismail Lumanovski. “Three Preludes” for piano by Nailah Nombeko followed, performed again by Mr. Ketter. This was a pensive work, with some portions harmonically reminiscent of modern jazz. The first half closed with “Summer Souvenirs” for piano by Kevin McCarter, performed by its composer. This was a harmonically mellow work, and probably the most clearly tonal of the concert.
After a brief intermission the concert resumed with the sole work involving electronics, Max Giteck Duykers’ “Theia” for bass clarinet & electronics. Bass clarinetist Christa Van Alstine was required to trigger a computer-driven accompaniment via foot switches while performing her own acoustic part in normal fashion, a challenge she met ably in this unusual and interesting work. Next was “Two Piano Pieces” by Emiko Hayashi, performed by Martha Locker; this work seemed to positively reference the the styles of all three of the major “Second Viennese School” composers in one respect or another, and all within a modest formal framework. NYCC Executive Director Hubert Howe’s “Pentachordal Etudes #4 and 5” for piano (performed effectively by his son Jonathan Howe) followed next on the program; the well-balanced works featured pitch-selection techniques used previously by the composer, as well as a continuous contrapuntal web texture characteristic of a number of his pieces. The final works on the program, “Four Piano Pieces for Maestro Hsu”, were again performed with aplomb by the indefatigable Craig Ketter. Composer Raoul Pleskow explained how these formidable pieces were composed with pianist Samuel Hsu in mind, both during and subsequent to the pianist’s life; their powerful and expressive pianism brought the evening’s concert to a fitting and successful conclusion.
Roger Blanc, M.M., studied with David Diamond and was an assistant teacher in Ear Training at Juilliard for three years. His music
has been performed at Alice Tully Hall, The Whitney Sculpture Court and overseas. He has worked extensively in music for television
(David Letterman), film (Frida), recording (Paul Simon), and live performance (Miles Davis).