Clarinetist Nikolasa Tejero and pianist Tim Hinck built a bridge of music in the City Gallery at Waterfront Park on Tuesday evening, fusing European music influences with lively folk tunes from the Americas.
Pieces by composers from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and the United States were featured in "The Clarinet in the New World," part of Piccolo Spoleto's Spotlight Concert series.
Tejero and Hinck, faculty members at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, played expressively, with Tejero often breaking from her intense focus into a broad smile at the end of more energetic pieces.
From the mysterious opening strains of Cuban-born Mario Abril's "Fantasia" to a more familiar sonata from Leonard Bernstein, the rhythmic, expressive flavor of the music was always in the foreground.
A series of unaccompanied clarinet sketches from Puerto-Rican born Roberto Sierra featured Tejero alone, while the rest of the repertoire showcased both performers' talents in interpreting the festive music.
Each piece highlighted the personality of its American origin, conjuring the feel of music you might hear in the streets of Havana or Rio de Janeiro.
The driving ending of Paquito D'Rivera's "Contradanza" even elicited a few giggles from the audience as Tejero's clarinet climbed its way through the upper register to its ending notes.
"Zarabandeo," a sultry, swelling sarabande by Mexican composer Arturo M rquez, mimicked earlier pieces exported from the Americas that Europeans at one time found too lewd and suggestive.
No written records of those original compositions exist, but M rquez managed to capture their romantic spirit.
"Zarabandeo" encapsulated the evening, showing off the talents of Tejero and Hinck and the lively dance-ready music of the Americas.