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Jon Manasse, Clarinet, and Jon Nakamatsu, Piano, at Juilliard's Paul Recital Hall
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Jon Manasse, Clarinet, and Jon Nakamatsu, Piano, at Juilliard's Paul Recital Hall

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The Juilliard School
(Juilliard Music Web Page)
Presents Part of the
Daniel Saidenberg Faculty Recital Series

Manasse / Nakamatsu Duo

Jon Manasse, Clarinet

Jon Nakamatsu, Piano

Paul Recital Hall
155 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023

Media Relations: Gloria Gottschalk

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 18, 2019

Program: Johannes Brahms (1833-97): Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in F Minor, Op. 120, No. 1; Frederic Chopin (1810-49): Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante, Op. 22; Leonard Bernstein (1918-90): Sonata for Clarinet and Piano; Paquito D’Rivera (b. 1948): “Lecuonerias” from The Cape Cod Files; John Novacek (b. 1964): Four Rags for Two Jons.

Paul Hall at Juilliard is a wonderful venue for experiencing solo and chamber music. The ambiance is quiet and reverent, seating is raised with full view of, yet intimacy with, musicians, and you can hear the artists’ comments to the audience. Jon Manasse, a master clarinetist, has received rave reviews on these pages for a chamber concert in a church and orchestral solos with American Ballet Theatre Orchestra. He performs internationally in solo and duo (with Jon Nakamatsu) concerts, and he also joins acclaimed orchestras around the globe and in local and regional events. Mr. Manasse is a Juilliard alumnus and member of the faculty. Mr. Nakamatsu, a stunning pianist, makes a fine stage partner for Mr. Manasse, who likes to greet the audience and introduce the program throughout the evening. The stage chemistry is entertaining, and Mr. Nakamatsu, a 1997 Van Cliburn Piano Competition Gold Medalist, also tours internationally for recitals, chamber ensembles, and orchestral guest solos. The Manasse/Nakamatsu Duo also serves as Artistic Directors of the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival.

The Brahms Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in F Minor opened with the “Allegro appassionato”, after we were told this sonata was Brahms’ last love letter to Clara Schumann. Its swirling rhythms were magnetic, with a languid clarinet and vibrant piano phrases. The romantic theme passes to Mr. Manasse , before the duo introduces introspective and yearning musicality. The “Andante poco Adagio” exuded solitude and longing as the piano echoed the clarinet’s theme in backdrop tonality, an exquisite contrast. The “Allegretto grazioso” was imbued with a waterfall of breezy notes and refrains, and I noted that this theme would make a gorgeous song. The final “Vivace” was lively like a folk dance, merging the two instruments as one.

The second work, a solo for piano, was Chopin’s Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante. Mr. Nakamatsu had the piano opened for the fullest sound. This piece, often heard as a ballet score, was scintillating and sparkling in this pianist’s extraordinary performance. I could have listened to this three more times or more, in the moment. Leonard Bernstein’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano was next. The “Grazioso” was contemporary and urban, with a soaring clarinet and piano trills and contrasts, evoking fragments of West Side Story rumbles and dances. The “Andantino” found Mr. Manasse dancing onstage with his clarinet in syncopated rhythm. Mr. Nakamatsu smiled throughout as his jazzy phrases filled the hall.

Paquito D’Rivera, clarinetist, has received rave reviews in live performance on these pages over the years. His stunning “Lecuonerias” from The Cape Cod Files, a full commissioned piece for the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, was tonight a solo for Mr. Manasse. The work is dedicated to the Cuban composer, Ernesto Lecuona, and it was elegantly performed on clarinet, with energy and effervescence. The final John Novacek piece, Four Rags for Two Jons, brought this duo together again to showcase their artistry. The first movement, “Schenectady”, was cool and chic, charming and oh, so Joplin. “4th Street Drag” was bluesy, rambling, and debonair, with a deep clarinet and treble piano trills. “Recuperation” and “Full Stride Ahead” speeded up the clarinet like a silent film score, replete with racing piano rhythmics.

An encore brought accolades to a 91 year-old music arranger, James Cohen, for his version of “I’ve Got Rhythm”. Kudos to Jon Manasse and Jon Nakamatsu.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at