* Notes *
Clarinetist Brenden Guy organized an evening of English music at St. John's Church in San Francisco yesterday. The performance started with some rather cute, pastoral music from Gerald Finzi and Arnold Cooke. Guy and Yeo Jin Seol played Finzi's Five Bagetelles for clarinet and piano. Arnold Cooke's Three Songs of Innocence were sung by soprano Indre Viskontas, accompanied by clarinet (Guy) and Ian Scarfe (piano). Viskontas' diction was clear and her voice was piercing. Before intermission we heard Valinor Winds play Holst's Wind Quintet Opus 14 in A-flat major. The group seemed to enjoy playing together, which is always nice to hear.
The last two pieces on the program were less adorable but more gratifying. Guy and Keisuke Nakagoshi played Herbert Howells' Sonata for Clarinet and Piano. The first movement was smooth and without harshness, the second movement was second half more vivid. Guy conducted 10 musicians in Britten's first piece, the Sinfonietta for Chamber Orchestra (1932). There was some beautiful playing, and I particularly liked the third movement Tarantelle: Presto vivace.
* Tattling *
The audience was quiet. As I was surrounded by friends, including Axel Feldheim and SF Mike, this is perhaps not surprising. There were only some discernible sounds from the street outside. As a venue, the acoustics of St. John's are fine for chamber music, but the lighting certainly was not focused on the performers.