Saturday, December 5, 2009

Oboe + Bass = Great Chamber Music

What do you get when you pair an oboe with a sting bass? Not much usually, unless you are Carrie Vecchione and Rolf Erdahl. I was lucky enough to attend one of their concerts a couple of months ago on a short weekend trip to Cincinnati, Ohio. Dan and I were headed to a friend's wedding that was happening a few hours away in central Indiana. We planned to stay with Dan's brother in Cincinnati, so I contacted my teacher at Cincinnati Conservatory, Dr. Mark Ostoich, to let him know that I would be in town. I was hoping to see him and get caught up.

When Dr. O and I finally reached each other on the phone, he let me know about a concert that another former student, Carrie Vecchione, of his was giving in the Warner Recital Hall at CCM. What luck! Not only would I get to see my former teacher, but also another friend in concert.

Carrie really helped me out a lot during my undergraduate. At the time, she was the oboe professor at Ball State University and she hosted many masterclasses with such notables as John DeLancie, Marilyn Zupnik, Kathryn Greenbank, and David Weber to name a few. She was always so kind to invite me to attend these events and to showcase me as a participant in the masterclasses. I learned a lot from these classes and I developed a tremendous amount of respect for Carrie's organizational skills.

The concert proved to be tons of fun and ultimately very satisfying musically. I can say with all confidence that it was one of the best recitals that I have personally attended. Carrie played with a beautiful free singing line, and Rolf added a lot of character and some pretty flashy technique to the performance.

The program included works by Timothy Goplerud and Andrea Clearfield. The Goplerud pieces are a real lark, and I was particularly taken with the Clearfield work inspired by poetry by Pablo Neruda. I may just program the Clearfield on a recital in the Spring. You can check out their album called, "It Takes Two..." available from Centaur Records or for download on iTunes. My favorite piece from the concert, "Askelad and the Seven Silver Ducks" by Margaret Griebling-Haigh, sadly has not been recorded by the duo yet, but I'll hope for a companion album sometime soon! I also really liked the fact the Rolf and Carrie took turns talking about the works they were playing. It created a powerful connection between the audience and the performers, which I feel is often missing from many a concert.

Afterward, Dr. O, Carrie, Rolf, and crew of other recital attendees headed over to Pomodori's Pizzeria and Trattoria for drinks and a light supper. I had so much fun seeing old friends and I was truly inspired by Carrie and Rolf's efforts. They have essentially created a new ensemble genre that most composers wouldn't consider viable by virtue of their conviction and beautiful playing to back it up. I have to hand it to them not only for their musical abilities, but also for their educational work for kids in Minnesota schools, not to mention commissioning new works for the oboe and bass. I look forward to hearing about their future successes and to seeing what kinds of pieces they spur into existence over the coming years.

Addendum - 12/18/2009

Check out this fabulous CD review in the Juilliard Online Journal.

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