Richard Stoltzman and Bill Douglas opened their clarinet and piano recital at the National Institutes of Health yesterday afternoon with a jewel of a sonata by Telemann and closed with a glowing account of the F Minor Sonata of Brahms. In between there was music that won them a prolonged round of applause from the enthusiastic audience as well as a vociferous "boo!"
The divided opinion in Masur Auditorium arose following the young musicians' brilliant performance of Five Miniatures by Douglas, which comes straight out of the world of jazz. Both Stoltzman and Douglas are knockout jazz artists, a fact that in no way alters the opinion held by many that Stoltzman is the preeminent soloist on the clarinet today in any repertoire from Mozart to Poulenc to Messiaen.
The Miniatures moved through bebop to Afro-Irish rhythms, took a flier from Jerome Kern's "All The Things You Are" and burst into a purely spoken duo that had the irresistible pizazz of Ella Fitzgerald's skat singing or Danny Kaye doing "Tchaikovesky." It is a singular tour de force which rightly helped to bring down the house as well to bring out the "boo."
Stoltzman's playing is a supernal duty. The sheer technical wizardry as the man performs wonders with his breath is quickly forgotten in the splendor of the sounds he produces. In the slow movement of the Brahms it was impossible to know precisely the moment at which a long, sustained soft note ended. He is a musician of flawless taste, one with few rivals anywhere on any instrument.
Their Telemann was a baroque celebration, enhanced subtle skills in ornamentation.Douglas, not content with composing and playing the piano, is also a virtuoso on the bassoon. Combining their wind instruments, the two men had great fun in four two-part inventions by Bach. They make a remarkable team.