Usually, the instrumental mix for a classical trio would be piano, violin and cello. But The Zodiac threesome have discovered the magic that happens with a trio of piano, violin and clarinet. The result of their discovery was centre-stage for Oceanside Classical Concerts (OCC) on Wednesday October 18 to a sold-out crowd at Knox in Parksville. Cheers, whistles, standing ovations said it all. The performance was, in a word, brilliant.
Kliment Krylovskiy, clarinet, has received praise for his “easy facility…vibrant tone…expressiveness and exuberance”. Krylovskiy’s playing shone throughout the performance at Knox. His technique was astoundingly evident in Klezmer Fantazye (Andrew List). Wistful colours were expressed in the traditional style of the Ashkenadi and Sephardic Jews dating back 3000 years, with the unique klezmer scales/runs/glissandos and often-used staccato finishes. The rich tones from the clarinet were at times melted chocolate…and then glistening rays of sunlight; throughout, Kliment’s sensitive playing was matched by masterful technique.
Vanessa Mollard, violin, was outstanding. Her skills were boldly on display in her performance of Chaconne, a Baroque work for violin and piano composed by Tomasso Antonio Viteli, then edited by Ferdinand David (friend of Felix Mendelssohn) and edited again by Leopold Charlier in 1911. The piece presented a theme, then worked through variations on that theme, each one being more and more taxing, finishing in staggering technical difficulty. The harmonious variations of the piano were complex, providing strong and underlying support. Viteli, David and Charlier would have been amazed by this performance.
Riko Higuma, piano, is “a highly sought-after piano collaborator and a sensitive chamber musician”. It’s easy to see why. She is the perfect pianist for this trio – true sensitivity, spectacular technique. Riko’s solo, Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude (op. 10 no 12) left the OCC audience in utter awe. Chopin composed the piece during the time of the Russian bombardment of his homeland, Poland, and the unsuccessful attempt at revolution against Russia. Riko’s interpretation was impeccable – Chopin’s angst and anger exploded from the piano with the furious bass and the pounding treble.
The trio’s program was designed flawlessly. The opening piece, Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano (Aram Khachaturian), set the tone for the first half with Eastern European influences trading melodies between the violin and the clarinet, with the piano creating the togetherness of it all.
Three Duets (Dmitriy Shostakovich) were written for violin and piano but, for the Zodiac, were transcribed for violin, clarinet and piano. The duets between the violin and clarinet were gorgeous, with the piano flowing gently like water underneath. The Gavotte (2nd movement) was perfectly dance-y. The violin and clarinet stepped ever-so-lightly with one another. The Waltz (3rd movement) described the celebratory scene – a ballroom of whirling gowns in all their splendor.
Astor Piazzolla’s works from the “Angel Series” (Muerte del Angel and Milonga del Angel) opened the second half. Here, the Tango was the star. The dancers were clear in the listener’s minds…in a dark club, oozing with passion…then, fiery and insistent. This was Piazzolla at his best, in the hands of this trio.
Romance was in the air with Andante and Allegro (Ernest Chausson). The piano’s opening for Andante was lovely, a welcoming and calm preparation. Kliment’s clarinet entered like a breeze through an open window, gauzy curtains softly moving. The clarinet’s long flowing lines were simply beautiful. The Allegro, with violin and clarinet trading parts and piano adding the backdrop, was flitting birds and butterflies. The technique here…the runs, the arpeggios…was astounding.
The program finished with Serenade for Three (Peter Schickele). This was a finale of perfect choice. Each of the Zodiac players took turns with the melody lines, playing tag, chasing each other in this festive work. The celebratory tone, with the joyous dance-y lines and the outwardly exuberant Appalachian-style hoedown, wrapped up the concert with more cheers, whistles and more well-deserved standing ovations.
A spectacular performance by three outstanding players. “The Zodiac Trio is recognized worldwide to be among the foremost clarinet-violin-piano ensembles performing today” – clearly demonstrated in their concert at Knox.
article by Mary Leigh-Warden, photography by Don Dempson