Report by Zachary Dierickx
French clarinetist and Buffet artist Pierre Génisson dazzled attendees at his 3:00 p.m. solo performance in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre on Wednesday, August 3. This was the first solo recital of the convention, following opening performances by the ICA board and ClarinetFest® 2016 hosts. Prior to the start of the recital, it was announced that Génisson would be performing on the newly released Buffet Tradition clarinet.
The recital began with the Clarinet Sonata, Op. 167 of Camille Saint-Saëns. Génisson delivered a delicate and dynamic performance of the piece, beginning with a songful “Allegretto” and ending with a precise and dashing “Allegro molto – Allegretto.” The recital continued with the unmistakable Dance Preludes by Witold Lutoslawski. The audience had time to relax as the stage was set for an unaccompanied work by Pierre Boulez, Domaines for Solo Clarinet. For this piece, six stands were set in a circle, facing the middle where the performer stood. Génisson moved from stand to stand in no apparent order. The piece made use of several extended techniques including multiphonics, flutter tongue and quarter tones. Additionally, the work made great use of silence between cells of musical material. Génisson’s stage presence, timing and stunning technique made this piece very engaging. The recital closed with the Sonata for Clarinet and Piano of Francis Poulenc. Much like the rest of the recital, Génisson impressed the audience with his dynamic range, in particular the control of his softest dynamics, encouraging the audience to sit forward in their seats. The audience warmly received Génisson’s compelling performance with a standing ovation. What a great way to start off the festival!