Mary Hegarty (soprano)/John Finucane (clarinet)/Gerald Martin Moore (piano)

 

{TABLE} Sechs Lieder op 103 .................................... Spohr The Gypsy and the Bird ................................. Benedict Lo! Hear the Gentle Lark ............................... Bishop Le Chant du Berger ..................................... Meyerbeer Three Songs for Soprano and Clarinet ................... Jacob Der Hirt auf dem Felsen ................................ Schubert {/TABLE} THE first of four concerts I entitled "John Finucane and Friends at IMMA" took place yesterday afternoon at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The series explores the solo and ensemble repertoire of Finucane's instrument, the clarinet. In this first concert, when he was joined by Mary Hegarty (soprano) and Gerald Martin Moore (piano), sparkling performances could never quite dispel the limitations of the programme.

Schubert's Der Hirt auf dem Felsen is both the best known, and almost certainly the best, piece for this rare grouping. As the Schubert was the final item, the concert ended at the top.

It began lower down, with Spohr's Lieder Op 103. These six songs date from 1838 and have the sort of idiomatic brilliance which performers can get their teeth into. Yet for the listener, they show the limitations of the period piece they arouse one's curiosity, but they do not reach out.

Nevertheless, apart from the Schubert, Spohr's songs were the only music of any serious interest. In between, we had baubles by those eminent 19th century Englishmen Julius Benedict and Henry Bishop, a considerably better song by Meyerbeer (Le Chant du Benrer), and Gordon Jacob's Three Songs for Soprano and Clarinet, the only duo item on the programme. For the Victoriana and the Jacob, I would gladly have swapped a few good lieder and a half decent clarinet sonata.

Mary Hegarty and John Finucane showed the sort of rapport essential for good chamber music performance. The flexible discourse which propelled the Spohr and Schubert, for example, sounded natural and spontaneous. It was unfortunate that Gerald Martin Moore's playing was less defined, and seemed to respond to their discourse, rather than engage in it.