Hoodoos have danced in the Triangle area before. More specifically, it was two years ago in the nearby Holly Springs Cultural Center. There the work for piano and clarinet, where colors play…and hoodoos dance, received its world premiere. Composed by Free Spirits Artistic Director Lanette Lind, this chamber piece was revisited in Carswell Recital Hall on the Meredith College campus by the pianist/composer and clarinetist Jim Williams (the same players featured in the premiere).
Inspired by a visit to Antelope Canyon, this impressionistic “hoodoo” work grows on the listener. Its two untitled movements rather obviously reflect first, the Debussy-esque colors playing, and then the fantastic shapes (hoodoos) on the rock formations. In case that canyon contains running water, the ripples were evident in that dreamy first movement. Jim Williams brought a gratifyingly clean quality to the performance, employing that “pure tone” promoted in a recent essay by the world-renowned English conductor, Roger Norrington.
Composer (and erstwhile student at North Carolina School of the Arts) Thomas Massella (b. 1952) contributed two selections. In 2010, on a commission from saxophonist Wayne Leechford, he composed The Infernal Path for baritone saxophone and piano. Leechford joined Lind in this “devilish” and unusual piece where the saxophone at times softened the raucous piano part. That same composer’s Reveries for clarinet, saxophone and piano could not have been more appropriately named, particularly if one concentrated on the first movement, “Of Times Past.” Then the excitement of movement II, “New Horizons,” seemed designed to snap the listener out of said reveries. Williams returned to assist in this work. Leechford’s graceful alto saxophone was a pleasure to hear, worthy of taking its place among all those more “classical” wind instruments.
That current favorite of the past decade, Astor Piazzolla (1921-92), was not to be denied. His "Milonga sin Palabras" for violin and piano featured violinist Tasi Matthews in a strikingly adept treatment of those abundant melodies so characteristic of the composer. She again joined Lind in a like work by Paul Schoenfield (b. 1947), “Tango from Four Souvenirs.” Here the melodies were just as lush, but with a silken touch of jazz.
Richard Faith’s (b. 1927) Fantasy Trio No. 1 for violin, clarinet and piano closed the afternoon. A showcase for the aforementioned artists, this trio was captivating, especially in the opening Andantino movement.
Many thanks to Lanette Lind for her composing, for her performing, and for presenting these three other musicians of such high quality. Here was a “crisp” program seemingly designed to complement an equally crisp fall afternoon.