"Soulful and lovely in the central Romanza and fiercely explosive in the witty finale"
Poulenc Sonata with Marc-Andre Hamelin
Alexander Fiterstein treats his instrument as his personal voice, dazzling in its spectrum of colors, agility, and range. Every sound he makes is finely measured without inhibiting expressiveness. His program at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater on Monday contrasted Brahms and Debussy’s views of the clarinet’s infinite potential with those of the 20th century composers Shulamit Ran, Mason Bates, and Witold Lutoslawski. Responding to the clarinet’s every nuance, pianist Steven Beck was Fiterstein’s matchless partner.
In Debussy’s “Premiere Rhapsody” and Brahms’s Sonata, Op. 120, No. 2, Fiterstein tapered the classically proportioned phrases with finesse and probed the clarinet’s deepest realms.
Ran’s “For an Actor; Monologue for Clarinet” and Bates’s “Mercury Soul” (a world premiere) pushed Fiterstein’s instrument to its limits. Fiterstein roamed through the music’s elusive turns of high drama. The Bates took advantage of the new crop of sonic effects composers are assigning to traditional instruments in the wake of computer-produced sound.
Lutoslawski’s folkloric “Dance Preludes,” from 1954, added some Polish spice to the evening. Fiterstein offered Luigi Bassi’s Concerto Fantasia on Verdi’s “Rigoletto” as a frivolous curiosity, though its Victorian- era composer was almost certainly in earnest, entertaining a public with such arrangements in a time before recorded performances.
A clarinetist with a warm tone and powerful technique.
...and with [pianist] Noda trading phrases with profound feeling and fluency, Fiterstein made Debussy’s First Clarinet Rhapsody sound major and tossed off the ornamental intricacies of Bassi’s Rigoletto Variations with burbling brilliance....
It happened during the second movement:
a young Israeli lad stands there with the clarinet in his hands. Suddenly, a soulful tone is heard from the stage, emerging directly from within. Dark, velvet colors pour out of the clarinet, as if he could make the clarinet sing. Write down his name: Alexander Fiterstein.
We have not heard Mozart played this way for a long time. Fiterstein has a warm and wonderfully delicate sound, and an astonishing sensitivity to the style of Mozart. A star of the clarinet is born!
There is much delicacy in Fiterstein’s playing, but also great depth. He is absolutely free of any external mannerisms, and displays no fictitious drama. Doron Salomon conducted a musical dialogue with him with great sensitivity.
It is a pity that they did not play the Mozart Clarinet Concerto once more, because this was the performance of the week!
– Yedioth Ahronoth –
Tel Aviv, Israel
In Aaron Copland’s sparkling Concerto for Clarinet and Strings with harp and piano, the Russian born Alexander Fiterstein, who was the winner of last year’s second Carl Nielsen Clarinet Competition, proved that he could live up to the honor. His technique is exuberant, his playing a vital declaration of love to Copland’s concerto, which was written in the late forties for none other than Benny Goodman. In Fiterstein, it found an intensely involved performer, who with sensitive fervor, delivered the almost romantic expression of the first movement, and consequently gave the second movement’s vivid and distinctly jazz- like phrases a dancing charm that swept the orchestra as well as the audience along.
– Jydske Vestkysten –
Written for piano, clarinet, and soprano, [Schubert’s The Shepherd on the Rock] was exquisite, sublime, and all of the other upper echelon superlatives one can imagine. Performed by [Roberta] Peters, Warren Jones, her gifted accompanist, and Alexander Fiterstein, whose clarinet obbligato had the subtle essence of mellowness with stainless steel edge, it exceeded merely brilliant. Especially due to Fiterstein’s intuitive and sensitive conversational playing, it was of such rare beauty, if there had been nothing else, this one piece would have been worth the ticket price.
– News Sentinel –
The second concert’s crowning glory was Beethoven’s Gassenhauer, performed by [Elena Bashkirova], Alexander Fiterstein, and Michael Sanderling...Fiterstein displayed an appealing clarinet sound and well-polished, elegant virtuoso passages.
– Jerusalem Post –