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The Clarinet and Johannes Brahms
By Bradley Winterton
Thursday,  Nov 8, 2018,15:46 (GMT+7)

The Clarinet and Johannes Brahms

By Bradley Winterton

HBSO’s “Clarinet and Johannes Brahms” night will feature Nguyen Tuan Loc, a member of the HBSO orchestra - PHOTO: COURTESY OF HBSO

HCMC - The HCMC Ballet, Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO) will present a program of clarinet music, plus Brahms’s finest symphony, in the Saigon Opera House on Sunday, November 18.

The clarinet was virtually discovered by Mozart, who went on to write two of his most loved works for it. Since then the instrument has attracted a range of composers, including Mendelssohn, whose Concert Piece No:2 in D Minor for Two Clarinets and Orchestra is included in the HBSO program.

Modern composers have taken to the instrument as well. Oscar Navarro is one example. Born in Spain in 1981, he completed his Clarinet Concerto Number 1, which opens the HBSO program, in 2006. It’s as sensuous, dynamic and colorful a piece as anyone could wish for.

Navarro has received innumerable awards for his music – both strictly classical works and music for films. He has his own symphony orchestra as well as his own publishing house.

Mendelssohn’s Concert Piece No:2 in D Minor for Two Clarinets and Orchestra was completed in 1833 but was originally written for clarinet and basset-horn, to be accompanied on the piano. The piano part was later adapted for orchestra, but not by Mendelssohn.

Today, with its two clarinet parts, the composition is an attractive and mostly light-hearted work much loved by clarinetists and audiences alike.

The guest clarinetist is Leon Bosch, and he will be accompanied in the Mendelssohn item by Nguyen Tuan Loc, a member of the HBSO orchestra.

Leon Bosch was born in 1959 and is the principal conductor of the Philharmonisch Orkest Mozart in Amsterdam. He trained in the Netherlands city of Maastricht, and has been teaching clarinet there, at the Conservatorium Maastricht, since 2008.

After the interval the audience will be treated to Brahms’s Symphony Number 4. It is the finest of his four symphonies.

Brahms has been called both a conservative and an intellectual, but one thing is certain – his music is invariably robust and sonorous. Some people have considered his 4th symphony to be tragic in its implications, but then anyone striving to create a final masterpiece is unlikely to make it a light comedy (though Shakespeare and Verdi are exceptions).

After a strenuous opening, the symphony has a languid second movement, an unexpectedly bright third movement (featuring the piccolo and triangle), and a final movement that is centered on the 18th century form of the “passacaglia”, a variant of the theme and variations.

Brahms was often seen as someone who thought that Europe’s musical past was superior to its present, and his use of the Baroque passacaglia to conclude his final symphony certainly adds weight to this belief.

The evening will be overseen by the South Korean conductor Lim Jun Oh, who was in HCMC in April 2017 when he conducted a spectacular HBSO event centered on film music.

Ticket prices range from VND650,000 down to VND200,000, with a special concessionary price for students of VND80,000. The concert begins at 8 p.m.

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