The Romantic Clarinet nationally touring Shtrykov-Tanaka Duo visits the Friends of Vienna

by JAN JEZIORO

Let’s say that you are a recent talented performance graduate of one of the most renowned music schools in the United States. Instead of seeking an academic appointment at a college or a university, or permanent employment as a member of an orchestra, you decide that you want to pursue a career as a soloist, and/or as a member of a small chamber ensemble. Unless you are one of the very few music graduates, who by a fortuitous combination of talent, timing and a lot of luck, manage to be ‘anointed” by the media at an early age, as the next best thing since the invention of sliced bread, you must do the hard work necessary to promote and establish your own professional career.

Besides their flourishing individual careers as soloists, that is exactly what pianist Misuzu Tanaka and clarinetist Maksim Shytrykov, have been doing since they embarked on a joint career after meeting while students at The Julliard School in Manhattan in 2012. Buffalo audiences will have the opportunity to hear this dynamically fresh duo for the first time, when they are featured on the next Friends of Vienna (FOV) series concert at the Unity Church, 1243 Delaware Avenue this Sunday, April 1, at 3:30pm. Their appearance on this series demonstrates that persistence does pay off. For the past three seasons, Misuzu and Maksim have been in contact with the FOV, trying to make a Buffalo appearance fit into their busy touring schedule. Luckily, this season they could combine a Friday night concert at RIT in Rochester together with a Sunday afternoon performance in Buffalo.

Born in London where she began her piano lessons at age five, Misuzu then continued her studies in Japan and in the US with Martin Canin at The Juilliard School. Her Masters and Doctoral degrees are from University of Michigan where she was a full scholarship recipient and devoted much time to the study and performance of the works of Leoš Janáček, which led to further studies with Miroslav Brejcha and the late, renowned pianist Ivan Moravec in the Czech Republic. She has performed in prestigious concert venues throughout the world, from the Gewandhaus in Leipzig and Mozart’s Museum at Villa Bertramka in Prague to Alice Tully Hall in New York.  Misuzu is a regular performer for Music from the Frederick Collection, a leading North-American venue for performance on historical instruments. Enjoying an active solo career in the U.S., she is among the country’s brightest emerging stars.

She opened her 2016-2017 season with a performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.9 with the Amadeus Festival Orchestra under the direction of maestro John Zoltek, and her recital highlights of the season include performances on the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts in Chicago and the Pro Musica in San Miguel de Allende, in Mexico.

A native of Belarus, Maksim Shtrykov, a recipient of the Artists International New York Debut Award, had his Carnegie Hall debut recital at Weill Hall in 2007. He was awarded a solo orchestral debut with the State Chamber Orchestra of Belarus at the age of 14, a performance that led to a series of concerto performances with the Belarusian State Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. A scholarship student at Julliard of the noted pedagogue Charles Neidich, a longtime member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Maksim began his 2016-2017 season with a performance of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the Amadeus Festival Orchestra in Whitefish, Montana. A prizewinner at many competitions, including the Brahms Chamber Music Competition in Gdansk, Poland, and Salieri-Zinetti International Chamber Music Competition in Verona, Italy, Maksim, a passionate advocate of clarinet music is on a continuous quest to expand his instrument’s repertoire, bringing to light rarely performed masterpieces by forgotten masters.

Very appropriately, the program selected by this engaging young couple will feature works by Robert and Clara Schumann, one of the most famous musical couples of the 19th century, who overcame strenuous objections and obstacles, by Clara’s father before they could wed. Clara will be represented by her now rarely performed Drei Romanzen, Op. 22 for Clarinet and Piano, while the Intermezzo movement, from the “F-A-E” Sonata, a famously collaborative work by three composers, was composed by her husband, Robert. Interestingly, one of the other two composers who had a hand in the “F-A-E” Sonata was none other than Johannes Brahms, the composer whose musical genius was first early recognized and widely proclaimed by Schumann. The Sonata in E-flat Major for Clarinet and Piano, Op.120 No.2, a late masterpiece by Brahms, is certain to be a highlight of the program. Salvador Brotons, an internationally active contemporary Spanish conductor from Barcelona, is also a prolific composer, but it is likely that the performance of his Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Op.46 will be the first area performance of any of his works. Francis Poulenc, who lived until 1963, composed some of the most popular 20th century French chamber works, including his Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, which will be featured on this recital.

Tickets: $12; $5 students. Information: www.friendsofvienna.org. All spaces in the lot at the rear of the Unity Church are available for free parking on Sundays.