Interesting Hour at Epiphany Church with Mozart, Bruch and Bartok (51 cents)

The Tuesday noontime concert at Epiphany Church today was first rate. Kyung LeBlanc (viola), Joseph LeBlanc (clarinet) and Joel Ayau (piano), billed as Sage Chambers Players. The program had two parts: Mozart’s Trio in E flag (K. 498), and selected movements from Max Bruch’s Trio Pieces for Clarinet, Viola and Piano (opus 83).

I was not familiar with either piece. Kyung LeBlanc introduced the Mozart saying that it had no slow, and no especially fast, segments, but that it just flowed along. And flow along it did……beautifully.

She also talked about the history of the trio. Mozart dedicated it to a friend named Franziska Jacquin, who hosted musical evenings at his house in Vienna. One evening, Mozart brought this new piece, playing the viola himself. I thought what it must be like – to have a party, invite your friend Mozart, and have him bring a new piece to play.

The three musicians are local. It took me a while to realize that few Koreans are named LeBlanc, and that it wasn’t a coincidence that the two LeBlancs had the same last name. It came to me when she said that she and Joseph first played this Mozart piece twelve years ago, and that they have played it many times since. Then, looking at their brief bios, I saw that both had music degrees from Michigan, and both did graduate work at the Cincinnati Conservatory. I saw that both have a lot of playing and teaching experience, and that Joseph is a member of the United States Marine Band. That I found interesting in and of itself, but also because John, also a Marine Band member, sits in the seat next to me at Nationals games – I have something new to talk about.

And then there was the pianist, Joel Ayau (you see, I was reading the program carefully during the concert – that’s what happens when lights are not dimmed). He was doing a very good job, and I read that he had studied both at NYU and Julliard. But I was fascinated, because at Julliard he studied “collaborative piano”. Who knew that was a field of study? And, having finished at Julliard, Ayau went on to get a doctorate in Piano Accompanying. Again, who knew??

It reminded me, though that accompanying is a skill apart from solo performance, and brought to mind Gerald Moore, accompanist extraordinaire, whom I first become aware of when I was an undergraduate, and became so impressed by his recordings of German lieder with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (thanks to roommate Doug Frame). Moore, of course without knowing it. taught me about accompanying. I have never read his autobiography, but have always thought the title was one of the best: “Am I Playing Too Loudly”.

But just when I was about to equate Ayau with Gerald Moore (which would probably make him very happy, and surprised), Ayau came out an announced that a new piece was going to be added to the program (this is what ex-law partner Chuck Edson would call a “Lucky Strike extra” – hearkening back to The Hit Parade, that old TV show)a solo piano piece by Bela Bartok, Fifteen Hungarian Peasant Songs. Whether or not you like this piece, you would have loved Ayau’s performance of it. So, whether he is an accompanist or a solo performer, Ayau is worth listening to.

All in all, an excellent noon time concert – why don’t more people come? Next week: a cellist and pianist. I bet it is equally good.

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