Around the Island

Shelter Island Friends of Music season kicks off with Tanaka and Shtrykov

Piano-clarinet duo Tanaka and Shtrykov played at the Presbyterian Church on Sunday, February 17.

One of the advantages of attending and enjoying musical events over many years is that the listener hears works from an ever-expanding catalogue of composers. 

The season’s first Friends of Music concert is a case in point. Are there any readers out there who have heard works by Danzi, Bassi, Rosenblatt or Gretchaninov? No? Well, neither have I.  

And yet, together they made for a fascinating afternoon of chamber music specifically scored or arranged for clarinet and piano. The young duo of Maksim Shtrykov, a clarinetist from Belarus, and Misuzu Tanaka, a pianist from London, are yet another example of a new generation of exquisitely talented performers who elevate our understanding of the world’s music.

Two highlights from the program were vivid performances of fantasies based on Verdi’s Rigoletto and Bizet’s Carmen. While many of the melodies from these well-loved operas were quite familiar, their unusual arrangements provided listeners a fresh and daring re-appraisal.

The young couple (yes, they are a couple, with near-future wedding plans), are each global competition winners and both hold degrees from Juilliard.They enchanted the audience with their technique and style and generated standing ovations from the sold-out crowd. Perhaps the loudest ovation came when it was announced that, just two weeks ago, Maksim Shtrykov became an American citizen. Belarus’s loss. America’s gain.