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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000490.txt from 1996/01

From: B HUDSON <XDPW41A@-----.COM>
Subj: ClarinetFest 1996
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 1996 22:53:16 -0500

As I also had the privilege to attend Don Oehler and Kelly Burke's CLARINET
CHAMBERFEST 1996 in Chapel Hill, NC last weekend I would like to add a few
comments to David Niethamer's overview of the first two days as well as
some comments on Sunday's final events. (Unfortunately I was unable to
attend the first performance which featured one of our hosts, Don Oehler,
Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on
basset clarinet and Robert Listokin, clarinet faculty at The N.C School of
the Arts performing with the Duke University resident string quartet, The
Ciompi String Quartet: Mozart's Quintet in A Major with Mr. Oehler, and
Brahms Quintet in B Minor with Mr. Listokin.)

David Campbell's masterclass with Mozart's Quintet for Clarinet and Strings
kicked off my ChamberFest experience. Without demeaning any of the truly
excellent performances associated with the event in the least I would like
to say that Campbell's performance with soprano voice and piano which
closed out the event along with Freddy Arteel and company's performance of
Bartok's Contrast along with Nathan Williams' performance of the Brahms
Sonata in F Minor rank with the all time musical experiences of my life.
Immediately after Campbell's Sunday afternoon performance I leaned forward
to Kelly Burke who happened to be sitting in front of me and asked if
Campbell's performance was as amazing to her expert ears as it was to my
amateur ones. She remarked that Cambell is simply a "world class artist."
And it was as "artist" that he effectively presided over the masterclass.
I happen to be an acquaintance of three of the four members of the string
quartet which played with the clarinetist, and they all considered it an
exceptional experience for themselves as well. And when Mr. Campbell
played a slow pianissimo line in the third movement, Annalee Wolf, the
violist, remarked that it was so stunning she was almost unable to play.

Campbell seemed to assume a certain degree of self confidence and musical
sophistication on the part of the players, and I would have found it a
daunting experience to take that chair regardless of my level of
proficiency. His suggestions were incredibly subtle, a stirring example of
the musicians responsibility to never just play the notes, the markings
etc.; to always find that next level of nuance that holds interest and
contributes to the main directions of the piece.

The only additional comment I would like to make to David Niethamer's
comments on Saturday's performances would be to recognize the variety of
approaches to the instrument exhibited Saturday. We heard Doug Miller,
Freddy Artell and Nathan Williams. Three utterly different approaches to
the sound of the instrument: three beautiful and convincing performances.
First Doug Miller, clarinet faculty at Appalachian State University,
performed Zemlinsky's Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano. I happen to know
that Doug has been studying with Kalmen Opperman in New York for some time
now, and that Doug plays with a doublelip embouchure. The sound is
extremely contained-- feelings of French horn rippled through my mind while

As to Nathan Williams, especially the Brahms Sonata ... for one of the few
times in my life I'm at a loss for words. I know that Nathan studied with
Alfred Prinz in Vienna (where he graduated with highest honors), but it
seems to me that of all the people we heard Nathan best embodies what I
take to be the "American School" of playing. He can push you right off
your seat with his sound while never breaking the focus and control. He
managed to infuse even the slowest, most lyrical passages with a sense of
contained energy. This Brahms nobody would sleep through. If Nathan were
a violinist I think we would be watching interviews with Hugh Downs at
intermission on public television. As to Arteel's Saturday evening
performance, I don't think I can add much to David Niethamer's observations
other than to report that my cellist wife was inspired to go home and
create the colors and nuances Arteel achieves-- especially in the Bartok

As my wife is Associate Principal Cello in the Greensboro Symphony where
Kelly Burke is Principal Clarinet, I've long been a fan of Kelly's relaxed,
musical clear toned playing. But Sunday morning it was made obvious why
the clarinet class at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is
growing in leaps and bounds, and why her students talk so glowingly of her.
She conducted the wind quintet masterclass in which several students read
through staples of that literature while discovering the complexities of
such practical decisions as to note length, rubato, pauses. How
communication is created and maintained amongst five individuals. But it
seemed to me that the real magic came in Kelly's ability to support the
individual while holding a clear goal of maintaining the highest standard
to which she feels the student can be taken to.. (As opposed to Campbell,
who knows, with sufficient Inderal, maybe I would even be willing to take
that public chair in a few years.) I think, l
ike her playing, Kelly finds an amazingly graceful, unstressed way of
stepping right into the essence of the music making.

Kelly opened the final concert Sunday afternoon with a trio by Mikhail
Glinka for Clarinet, bassoon and piano and the Mendelssohn trio for the
same instrumentation, Konzert Stucke No. 2, Op.115. The room would have
caused reverberations to a pin dropping-- the oldest building on the
campus, built in 1795. It would appear to have been a very small chapel
(could that account for "Chapel Hill?") with hard marble floors and walls
that could serve as a racquetball ball court. (Don, if you're listening,
why doesn't somebody put something on those walls.) I felt that the room
forced a certain degree of underplaying. For a lack of adequate language I
would say that Kelly has a somewhat lighter, sweeter sound than say Nathan
Williams (however from sitting in the Greensboro Symphony audience I can
attest that she has absolutely no trouble punching it out to whatever
degree is necessary). And for me the most significant single impact of her
playing is the seemingly effortless way she seem
s to almost sing into the music with a focus of that sound that stays put
through dynamic and register changes.

As to Campbell's performance, I think Kelly's comment might best sum it up:
"he's simply a world class artist." I was told that the English system
offers no "permanent" positions. The result being that for someone like
Campbell to stay in the front of the lime light of the British musical
world he's frequently performing three and four times a week. That works
out to our benefit. Assuming somebody regularly drags him back across the
Atlantic, all of our chances of catching a live performance are increased.
If he's performing in your area (say anywhere within say a five hour
drive), all I can say is I can't imagine that he would disappoint.

Don and Kelly entitled this, CLARINET CHAMBERFEST 1996. Now I guess that
implies something like CLARINET CHAMBERFEST ______. Let's ask Don and
Kelly to fill in the blank, and I recommend that those of you who live a
few states away start making your plans immediately upon receipt of the

A major BRAVO to the organizers and performers.

Bruce Hudson,

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