Director of Sullivan Conservatory of Music, Rebecca Wunch, and D’Angelo Department of Music chair, Nathan Hess, DMA, shared the stage at Walker Recital Hall on Wednesday, March 17 to share an impressive array of works by Martino, Mozart, Brahms and Paul. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the concert was livestreamed via YouTube.
However, the musical performances were still deeply engaging, even through a computer screen. Wunch performed on clarinet, and is an instructor at Mercyhurst for Clarinet, Theory/Aural Skills, Woodwind Ensemble and Orchestral/Chamber Music, as well as the director of the Sullivan Conservatory of Music. Hess accompanied Wunch on piano, and is not only the Mary A. Spadafor Endowed chair of Music for D’Angelo Department of Music, but also an associate professor and piano instructor for the music department.
Before beginning her performance, Wunch shared a bit of information on the first piece, “A Set For Clarinet” by Donald Martino, written in 1974. The work consists of three movements, “Allegro,” “Adagio” and “Allegro.” “Allegro” and “Adagio, respectively, are in ternary form, while the final Allegro is binary.
It is always fascinating to learn about the intricate structures of such works, and then have the opportunity to observe and follow along as you listen.
The piece varied in tempo and style. While it began with an incredibly playful sound, similar to that of a bird, it soon transitioned to a more somber, slow moving style. Then again it transitioned – back to a quick pace but now more so with a sense of chaos. This intricate pattern continued through-out the work. The second piece, “Sonata in B-Flat Major, K. 333,” was a solo performance on piano played by Hess. The work was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
This piece was incredibly charming and lively. It felt almost as if you were being carried by the music, or floating along as he played. After that, Hess accompanied Wunch as they played “Sonata In E-Flat Major, Op. 120, No. 2,” written by Johannes Brahms.
This work, to me, felt similar to that of a lullaby. It was blissful and calming to listen along to.
While the piano accompaniment complimented the clarinet line so beautifully, there was a sense of a playful back and forth between the two instruments.
The last piece was “Estilian Caprice,” and it was written by Gene Paul. This was such a joyful work to bring the concert to a close. The intricate rhythms and waltz style of the piece made a true pleasure to listen to. This work made you want to get up dance around, and the bright tone of the clarinet was mesmerizing.
This was truly an exceptional recital, and a true joy to attend. Both Wunch and Hess per-formed with such passion and grace. If you were unable to attend the concert, I strongly encourage you to search for it on YouTube or the D’Angelo Social Media pages and check it out. The D’Angelo Music Department will have one more Faculty Recital this Spring featuring local musician, Dr. Allen Zurcher on the saxophone, which will also be livestreamed.