“First Chairs Forward” hit all the right notes with its distinctive showcase of enlivening sonatas, drawing a crowd excited for a night of live chamber music.
The Knox-Galesburg Symphony’s annual concert, held this past Saturday, Feb. 2 in Kresge Recital Hall, featured the symphony’s principal clarinetist Eric Ginsberg, principal cellist Carolyn Suda and Knox’s Professor of Music Bruce Polay.
The recital featured Poulenc’s “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano,” Kabalevsky’s “Sonata for Cello and Piano in B-flat Major,” Bernstein’s “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano,” and Tajcevic’s “Seven Balkan Dances” for clarinet, cello and piano. For the finale, they performed the world premiere of Polay’s composition, “Fast.”
Ginsberg was first to take the stage, accompanied by Polay on piano, performing Poulenc’s “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano” that Polay described as having “dissonant barroom chords” and “jumping phrases and structures” that “kept the mind captivated.”
Ginsberg enjoys the opportunity to perform in a chamber orchestra setting. He says that in the symphony, he is normally “30 to 40 feet away from the audience.” In chamber, there is a more immediate intimacy between the performer and the audience, a “give and take … that’s most satisfying.”
The second performance introduced Suda, also accompanied by Polay, for Kabalevsky’s “Sonata for Cello and Piano in B-flat Major.”
Suda described the movement and tone of the Russian sonata as a journey that starts off “sad at the bottom of the cello then rounds up to the top [along] mournful scales of majors and minors.” She notes that Kabalevsky reveals his frenetic, “diabolical qualities,” and then returns back to the lonely sad tune.
After a quick intermission, the three symphony members all joined forces to perform Tajcevic’s “Seven Balkan Dances” for clarinet, cello and piano.
Sophomore Maya Webne-Behrman, who works in the KGS office, reflected on her love of performances such as “First Chairs Forward.”
“Live music is so raw [and allows for a more] present experience with the performer,” she said.
The finale unveiled Polay’s composition “Fast,” in which all three musicians took part in the performance. Polay described the highly energized piece as “syncopated and rhythmically displaced.”
There will be second chance to enjoy the recital this coming Saturday, Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. “First Chairs Forward” will take the stage once again at The Bistro, 101 W. Main Street in Toulon, Ill. Tickets are available at the door.