Monday, April 23, 2012

Manasse Nakamazing Duo

Last Friday, I heard clarinetist, Jon Manasse, perform with pianist, Jon Nakamatsu at Northeastern University.  It was a breathtaking concert.  Both men are amazing musicians, and Mr. Manasse was really funny and entertaining when he spoke with the audience.

The first piece the duo played was the Brahms clarinet sonata.  This sonata is a gorgeous piece, and they played it beautifully.  Mr. Manasse's tone and expression were exquisite.  I think my favorite movement was the first, because Mr. Manasse conveyed a real sense of melancholy that was very moving.  One part of the performance that I particularly liked was Manasse's movement, which was very expressive.  Both musicians communicated really well, and they both seemed comfortable together.

After they played the Brahms, Mr. Manassee talked a little.  He spoke about the sonata, and he noted that a lot of composers seem to die after they write solo music for the clarinet.  Mozart, Brahms, and Poulenc, all apparently died after composing their famous clarinet pieces.  Mr. Manasse said he used to think that writing solo music for the clarinet must have killed them.  Although, he quickly noted that composing solo clarinet music now extends the lives of composers.

The last piece before intermission was a solo piano work by Chopin.  Mr. Nakamatsu was so technically proficient, but his phrasing and musicality were stunning.  I loved how he kept the sense of musicality even though the fast parts.

After the intermission, Mr. Manasse talked with the audience some more.  He was fun to listen to, and he started calling Mr. Nakamatsu "Nakamazing"  which I thought was pretty funny.  The first piece they played after intermission was Leonard Bernstein's Opus 1, his clarinet sonata.  This music has a few glissandos and I really liked how Mr. Manasse played them.

The last part of the concert was "Four Rags for Two Jons."  This was a really fun piece that Manasse and Nakamatsu performed astoundingly well.  It has a lot of parts which were meant for the audience to laugh at.  In many sections of the piece, the audience snaps with the soloists, and the pianist shouts things and stomps.  The end of the work is especially funny when the piano starts to play the Mozart Clarinet Concerto and the clarinet keeps playing the theme from the piece.

Afterwards, the audience kept calling for ovations, and Mr. Manasse finally went to the microphone and said, "Well, you asked for it!"  He then played an arrangement of "I've Got Rhythm" for clarinet and piano, which I just loved.  It was a great end to an amazing concert.

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