Wednesday, February 23, 2011 In 'L’extase d’Amour' of H. Leslie Adams, violist Eliesha Nelson was the more than capable soloist'

[H. Leslie Adams, Composer; Eliesha Nelson, Violist]

by Daniel Hathaway
“How many local composers can boast of having their own Fan Club? H. Leslie Adams is one of the few, if he isn’t unique in that regard, and his friends and supporters turned out in force for a concert of his new instrumental works at the Main Cleveland Public Library on Saturday afternooon, February 19.

“The 2 pm, one-hour performance was the latest event in CPL’s 'Music at Main' series, which takes place on the third-floor landing of the main building, at once an intimate and spacious setting where the corridors leading to the Fine Arts Department and the Recordings collection meet (and where the elevators regularly chime in). It’s a fun setting because the music carries throughout the marble halls below and above and draws listeners into the audience who had come on other errands.

“On Saturday, though, most of the large crowd were there on purpose to hear four new (and in one case not quite complete) works by one of Cleveland’s probably most-performed composers. Adams, who graduated from Oberlin, was born in Cleveland and has stuck around for most of his 79 years, though his compositions have traveled as far as Iceland and Prague. Bassoonist Michael Dalby, a librarian in the Fine Arts Department, is the mastermind for Music at Main, and after recognizing new library director Felton Thomas, Jr., greeting the crowd and introducing H. Leslie Adams, he joined his wife, pianist Anne Dalby for a performance of Adams’ Poem of Love. The bassoon played a long, lyrical melody over an accompanimental pattern in the piano, then the two instruments traded roles. A more rhythmical middle section found the two players passing motives back and forth, then the attractive work ended with a restatement of the first section.

“The Romance in D-flat for English horn and piano, the composer explained, is part of a project to bring ensemble instruments into the spotlight as soloists. Alice Mantey joined pianist Robert Cassidy for the piece, which was again cast in A-B-A form with lyrical sections separated by a rather jazzy middle section. Two movements of Adams’ Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano (an unusual combination, he explained) were presented by clarinetist Victoria Marra, violinist Laura Simna and Cassidy. Though the first movement resembled the two earlier works in form and content, the second surprised us with a march (described by Adams as “the march of the aggressive toy soldiers”).

“Perhaps the most assured piece of the afternoon, Adams’ L’extase d’Amour for viola and piano, came at the end. Cleveland Orchestra violist Eliesha Nelson was the more than capable soloist, expertly joined at the piano by Dianna White-Gould. Here Adams’ trademark lyrical tune got slightly varied treatment upon repetition, and the mid-section was enlivened by dialogues between the piano and pizzicati from the viola. Some harmonic surprises also pricked up the ear. Adams’ lyrical and accessible music made for an enjoyable hour of listening on a bright Saturday afternoon.” The composer's website is: [H. Leslie Adams (b. 1932) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma of Lawrence University Conservatory]

Comment by email:
Bill, Thanks for your kind compliment and for the posting. hla [H. Leslie Adams]

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