Monday, April 29, 2019

Festival de Pâques - Génération @ Aix - Brahms & Mozart - 04/18/19

Brahms: Clarinet Trio in A Minor, Op. 114 
Robert Levin: Piano 
Aurélien Pascal: Cello 
Amaury Viduvier: Clarinet 
Mozart: Quintet in E-Flat Major for Piano and Winds, K.V. 452 
Rafael Angster: Bassoon 
Robert Levin: Piano 
Philibert Perrine: Oboe 
Nicolas Ramirez: Horn 
Amaury Viduvier: Clarinet

While the Festival de Pâques is evidently growing bigger and better every year, it still makes a laudable point of ensuring that exceptional young musicians get their share of the spotlight too in intermission-free one-hour concerts scattered throughout those two weeks. After all, everybody has to start somewhere, not to mention that those youngsters’ skills and enthusiasm are every bit as impressive as the ones of the more seasoned pros they collaborate with. And that’s what Génération @ Aix is about.
Therefore, after a morning spent at Fondation Vasarely and an afternoon at Musée Granet, my mom and I made our way to the eye-popping and intimate Théâtre du Jeu de Paume (Yes, the one with the bright red velvet walls and stunningly decorated ceiling) for our first concert of the evening at 6 p.m.
After bumping into some friends of my mom’s in the lobby, we took our seats and readied ourselves for chamber music works by Brahms and Mozart while keeping an eye on the clock. Not that we were particularly eager to get out of there, but once this concert was over, we would have to dash down the stately cours Mirabeau to the Conservatoire Darius Milhaud for our second and last concert of the evening – and last of the festival – at 8 p.m.

And what better way to get into a musical mood than with more Brahms? Refreshingly featuring the often overlooked clarinet as the primary instrument, his fairly traditional four-movement Clarinet Trio is generally somber and contemplative, but still contains a healthy amount of the exquisite Romantic melodies we have come to expect from him, as well as more unexpected rhythms that cannot but pique the listener’s interest. 
Nonplussed by all the attention thrown upon him, and taking full advantage of the appealing score, clarinetist Amaury Viduvier delivered a downright virtuosic performance, beautifully highlighting how well-crafted the composition was and what a genuine thrill it was to play it. Not to be outdone, cellist Aurélien Pascal made the most of his exciting exchanges with the clarinet while veteran pianist Robert Levin kept things running smoothly.
Upon completing his Quintet in E-Flat Major for Piano and Winds, Mozart famously wrote to his father that he considered it to be the best thing he had written in his life, which is really saying something coming from one of the most talented and prolific composers ever. After hearing the highly imaginative and perfectly balanced piece though, it was hard to argue.
Democratically combining the four intrinsically different wind instruments that are the oboe, the clarinet, the horn and the bassoon in order to create cool new sounds was probably an irresistible challenge for the ever-inquisitive artist. The fact that he smashingly succeeded became quickly clear as each instrument made its specific voice heard no fuss, no muss while seamlessly blending in the ensemble for a boldly unusual, naturally elegant and downright engaging result.

The ovation was so intense that the five musicians involved in the Mozart performance came back for a repeat of the cadenza of the last movement, after confessing that they had on idea they were going to play so well, and therefore had no encore up their sleeves. But then again, who could possibly complain about listening to Mozart again?

1 comment:

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