The Brott Music Festival offered high tea & music featuring string, piano and clarinet. The musicians were Iain MacKay, Kathryn Wiebe, Rachel Abramoff,, Kathleen de Caen, and Erin Rose MacLeod with soloists Shoshana Telner – piano and clarinetist Kornel Wolak. The afternoon began with a piece by composer in residence, Maxime Goulet featuring Wolak on clarinet. Goulet’s music is very listenable and narrative driven with this piece a story about the young boy who is befriended by Hemingway’s ‘Old Man and the Sea’ and what happens to him next.
Wolak played the part of the young boy and caught a fish while playing the clarinet – no mean feat!
Next Telner treated us to Robert Schumann’s ‘Abegg Variations’. Abegg refers to the notes on which the theme is written and the piece is dedicated to one of Schumann’s imaginary friends. Given that intro it should sound stranger than it does, it was actually rather dreamy, fluid & beautifully played.
The first half of the concert wrapped up with Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, a work composed for Anton Stadler who increased the lower range of the clarinet. Mozart admired his mastery of the instrument & composed several pieces to show it off. However, the Quintet is not just a showy piece; it is a good example of the range of Mozart as a mature composer too. We have a very familiar sublime Allegro, a romantic movement, a stately promenade like movement and finally a heartbreaking yearning weaving the various strands together. There was no fooling around in this, it was played with great delicacy and sensitivity and left the audience with the joy of hearing gorgeous music perfectly played.
After a substantial and delicious High Tea we were offered a very wide range of music show casing the virtuoso talents of Wolak. He played the violin solo part in Vivaldi’s Summer from the Four Seasons on the clarinet then swung into some Benny Goodman compositions and on to ‘Tico Tico’ at an ever increasing tempo. He displayed an unbelievable ability to play the clarinet in addition to demonstrating the range for that instrument – and clowned around while doing it.
There was no clowning while performing Bach’s ‘Air on a G String’. The serene melody was played by the clarinet with rhythm supplied by the plucked cello. Brott and Wolak did an amusing dance while playing with the rhythms of the Rossini piece which completed the concert. Wolak showed that he is a tremendously gifted player, even though he managed one or two squeaks during the playfulness, and he has an entertainingly extroverted personality. The audience loved him and demanded an encore. After pretending to take requests he agreed to Brott’s suggestion of the Flight of the Bumble Bee which was played at a blistering pace and was a fitting end to the afternoon.