Youth Music Monterey event

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The Brothers Khudyev: Eldar, Emil and Farkhad

BORIS ALLAKHVERDYAN, the LA Philharmonic principal clarinetist, and Australian pianist Stephen Whale, gave Youth Music Monterey students a master class last Thursday, and a big audience joined them in a jaw-dropping concert that evening with YMM music director Farkhad Khudyev and his two talented brothers at Hidden Valley Theatre in Carmel Valley.

I’m not sure how this came together—notice was short—but the excellent result was worth vastly more than the free admission. If these names sound unfamiliar, rest assured they belong at the top of their game within their generation—every one of them. The brothers aside, these young men got to know each other as music school students, here in the US.

The Khudyev brothers, sons of Azeri parents, began their music studies in their native Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Farkhad added conducting and composing to his career as a violinist, winning competitions and awards in the US, Germany and Asia. The short program opened with his own Fleeting Miniatures, a natural charmer and local premiere, for which he was joined by Allakhverdyan and Whale. (Farkhad remarked on his friendship with Allakhverdyan despite the historic enmity between Azerbaijan and neighboring Armenia.)

Whale then played two intermezzi from Brahms’ Op. 119. Another local premiere, an extreme rarity, followed as Farkhad and Whale massaged Romanze, an ‘album leaf,’ by Richard Wagner. Allakhverdyan then proceeded to show off his spectacular technical prowess in Alamiro Giampieri’s “capriccio variations” on that old saw Carnival of Venice, leaving Whale scant little to deal with.

Eldar Khudyev then joined Whale in a haunting recreation of Rachmaninoff’s popular Vocalise. This would be followed by another local premiere, and the biggest piece on the program, the Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano of 1932 by Aram Khachaturian. The three musicians then danced around Otoño Porteño, a tango from Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, in an arrangement by Allakhverdyan.

Finally, and most spectacular of all, Emil Khudyev joined Allakhverdyan and Whale for Konzertstück á la Feidman of 2014 by the now 26-year-old Hungarian master of the instrument, István Kohán. An homage to Giora Feidman, the Argentine-born Israeli clarinetist famous for his klezmer music, it was a blistering display of pyrotechnical virtuosity that showed off these two clarinetists as absolute equals.

So sensational was this finale, and the entire program, that the audience simply refused to leave the small Hidden Valley theater, preferring to talk up the artists and heap raves upon them.