Artistes Extrodinaires: Clarinetist Anthony McGill performs with Pianist Gloria Chien

3pm • Sunday, February 24th 2013
Union College Memorial Chapel • Schenectady (NY)

In his Treatise on Instrumentation (1844), Hector Berlioz describes the clarinet as producing sounds [specifically the middle range] that have a “proud quality tempered by noble tenderness, and are thus ideal for expressing feelings and ideas of the most poetic kind. Only light-hearted gaiety, or even carefree joy, seem not to suit them. The clarinet is not well adapted for music of an idyllic kind, it is an epic instrument, like the horns, trumpets and trombones. It is the voice of heroic love ….

No other wind instrument is able like the clarinet to voice a note quietly, make it to swell, decrease, and fade away. Hence its priceless ability to produce a distant sound, the echo of an echo, a sound like twilight.”

The single reed instrument has had many masters who have crossed genres from traditional jazz to classical. Benny Goodman and Don Byron come to mind. Anthony McGill, principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, is another who is making his mark in the historical clarinet ranks.

He has been recognized as one of classical music’s finest solo, chamber and orchestral musicians. McGill’s love of chamber music has led him to work with many quartets including he Guarneri, Tokyo, Brentano, Miami, Miro, and Daedalus as well as groups such as Musicians from Marlboro and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Society. He is a member of the Schumann Trio with violist Michael Tree and pianist Anna Polonsky.

Anthony McGill had the honor of performing John Williams’ “Air and Simple Gifts” with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and Gabriela Montero at the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009 and again last summer with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood on the occasion of Williams’ 80th birthday celebration.

He’ll be performing this Sunday on the Union College Concert Series with pianist Gloria Chien, an active recitalist, chamber musician and orchestral soloist who was chosen by the Boston Globe in 2011-2013 as one of the “superior pianists of the year” and “appears to excel in everything.” The program is to include:

  • Debussy:  Première Rhapsodie

  • Scriabin:  Selected Preludes (arr. for clarinet and piano)
  • Poulenc:  Clarinet Sonata
  • Schumann:  Romances, Op. 94
  • Berg:  Four Pieces, Op. 5
  • Weber:  Grand Duo Concertant, Op. 48

To warm you up for Sunday’s concert, take a listen to Anthony McGill perform Debussy’s Première Rhapsodie in a recital at his alma mater, the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Debussy wrote for the Paris Conservatoire clarinet examinations when he served on the Conservatoire’s Board of Directors. The original composition was for clarinet and piano. Debussy later published his own orchestration of the accompaniment in 1911, after the premiere with the distinguished Prosper Mimart and to whom the work is dedicated.  Enjoy!

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