Now weekly in Denver: Classical music in a Jazz club

On Monday night January 6th, Matthew Rathkey inaugurated Classical Mondays at Dazzle on Curtis.  The Chandelier Stage welcomed the talents of Jason Shafer, Principal Clarinetist of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Joshua Sawicki, who recently performed with cellist Silver Ainomäe at Englewood Arts and Lamont adjunct faculty member Ian Wisekal.  

The Trio invited the January wine and dinner crowd at Dazzle to leap into spring with a pastoral program with settings by Schubert, Saint Saëns, Klugardt, and contemporary composer Loren Loiacono. Schubert’s song, Shepherd on the Rock, was originally written for soprano and clarinet. Ian’s transcription of the vocal line for the oboe blended with Jason’s clarinet and the piano like an English garden filling with the scents of lilac and roses. The program took a more serious tone as Jason and Joshua performed Saint Saëns’ Clarinet Sonata in E flat Major, Opus 167. The Sonata was composed in 1921, the last year of his life, for the virtuoso Auguste Périer. It is reflective but not morose.  The theme recurs as an echo throughout the four movements. Even in the third Lento movement when the piano and clarinet descend to their lowest registers, the composer seems to see the grassy slope of his life as sundrenched. The dense contrast with the last movement’s lighter tone lent a meditative quality to the final hushed notes.

Ian returned to the stage for the 21st-century composer Loren Loiacono’s setting of three Edna St. Vincent Millay poems, “Some Figs from Thisles” that he and Jason commissioned her to write. The first, My candle burns at both ends… , was jazzy with a drumming rhythm from the percussive piano.  Despite being mostly restricted to a single note Josh built tension throughout the short piece.  When asked later how he managed, he explained that he used his index and middle fingers to control the volume and the consistency of his touch.   

The Trio took the audience to the banks of the Danube with Klughardt’s 1872 composition, Schilflieder – 5 Fantasy Pieces for viola, oboe and piano. Without a viola in the Trio,  Ian transposed the viola part for Jason’s clarinet. Each piece was based on a poem written by a tragic Austrian poet. The first of the five, Langsam, träumerisch sounded like spun cotton candy, both melodious and sweet but not cloying or sentimental.  Ian’s oboe expressed tender longing. The demands on the clarinet were met deftly by Jason’s fine playing. Klughardt’s meeting with Lizst around the time when the piece was composed may have contributed to the texture of the five pieces that were an assortment of after-dinner dark chocolate truffles.  

Watch these youtube videos featuring members of the Sawicki-Shafer-Wisekal Trio. 

Jason Shafer:

Ian Wisekal:

Josh Sawicki:


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