On Sunday, the Clark Art Institute’s resident artists Edward Arron and Jeewon Park, on cello and piano, respectively, along with Romie de Guise-Langlois on the clarinet, performed a chamber music concert.
With floor to ceiling windows, the Michael Conforti Pavilion that served as the venue gave a panoramic view of the Clark’s reflecting pond and Stone Hill, which has shed its summer foliage for the robust palette of fall.o The members of the clarinet trio were also dressed vibrantly: Park and de Guise-Langlois wore beautiful gowns while Arron sported a festive yellow tie.
Arron introduced Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Trio in B-flat Major for Piano, Clarinet and Cello, Opus 11” as a “great bang” of a clarinet trio. While performing the piece, written by Beethoven at 28 years old, the trio displayed his flair for drama without the frustration and anger that manifest in his later works. The first movement, “Allegro con brio,” is cheerful and energetic, if a bit distracted. The piano chimes in with glissandos, glides between two pitches, in between the voices of the clarinet and cello, and the three instruments each switch off occupying the central melody. The dynamics of the “Allegro con brio” are fickle and temperamental, launching from a soft and elegant tune into sudden forte, before settling back into piano.
In Manuel De Falla’s “Suite Populaire Espagnole for Cello and Piano,” de Guise-Langlois took a brief break from clarinet to assume the role of page-turner. However, Arron let the audience know that De Falla intended for the cello parts to be classical guitar, making the group’s rendition an adaptation of an adaptation. De Falla’s “Suite” is a collection of various Spanish folk elements, arranged into seven songs, though the chamber group only performed six. Arron’s performance was richly textured in “el paño moruno,” with pizzicato, plucking, in the beginning to mimic the sound of classical guitar, and emotive vibrato, variation in pitch, that gave a pleasant rising and falling quality to the piece. In “Nana,” a lullaby, Park’s soft, staggered notes provided a background to the cello’s melodic line, which contrasted the relentless pace in “Polo.” “Cancion” is beautifully syncopated, with cascading notes on the piano. “Asturiana” has a tragic quality and ended on a lonely note from Park, while “Jota” concluded the suite with a return to its playful beginning, interspersed with elegant, soulful bits on the cello.
The recital ended with “Autumn and Spring” from Astor Piazzolla’s “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.” Arron said that Piazzolla was inspired by Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” but the piece reveals itself to be a another animal entirely. In “Autumn,” Park took the lead with a jazzy, repeating chord progression on the piano that formed the rhythmic center of gravity. The progression appears to be taken directly from Piazzolla’s “Le Grand Tango,” albeit a less texturally aggressive rendition. After breaking out of the progression, the movement enters a slow, languid section. “Spring,” in contrast with “Autumn,” is airy. While “Autumn” returns to its initial chord progression over and over, “Spring” has a smoky quality to it. However, Piazzolla’s “Seasons” is far from Vivaldi’s naturalistic composition; Piazzolla’s seasons are that of the city, Buenos Aires, as his more urban sound betrays. “Spring,” in particular, evokes the suspense of a 1970s action movie.
Park and Arron’s program did not seem to have any historical narrative to it, but the drama and flair of each piece made the discrete elements cohesive. From Beethoven to Piazzolla, the clarinet trio brought a much-needed energy to an otherwise monotonous fall day.