An intimate musical conversation

An intimate musical conversation

David Rowden and Maria Raspopova join forces for an intimate musical conversation

When David and Maria first met, they were students at Sydney Conservatorium of Music. However, it wasn’t until their engagement party a number of years later that they actually performed together for the first time. The piece was George Palmer’s Black, White and a Little Blue. Now, with hundreds of performances together as part of the Omega Ensemble (often at opposite sides of the stage) they are now teaming up to perform an intimate recital celebrating some of the most iconic masterpieces for clarinet and piano an in an intimate musical conversation between husband and wife.

While they have a different approach to learning music and practicing, they are very much on the same page in their vision of presenting chamber music of the finest qualities. While David prefers to play through the repertoire as a whole, Maria prefers to work on different sections in more detail. While they might have different approach their outcome is the finest and most dedicated performances of the chamber music they are presenting. 

The pairing of the clarinet and the piano… 

Like David and Maria, the clarinet and the piano the perfect pairing. The voice like quality of the clarinet soars of the lush and wondrous tones of the piano. In this exciting program David and Maria explore Brahms’ Clarinet Sonata No.1 in Eb, op.120. A musical feast that features the lyrical and tender side of both the instruments as well as their virtuosic characteristics, this is the perfect way to open the program. In 1890, Brahms declared to friends and wrote to his publisher that he would retire as a composer. However, Brahms saw a performance by clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld who Brahms called the greatest wind player in the world. So inspired, Brahms held back on his retirement long enough to write four final works all featuring the clarinet in a starring role.

At the centrepiece of the program are two iconic piano solos presented by Maria. Liszt’s fiery Tarantella see’s Maria leaping from the highs to the lows of the piano with virtuosic bravura. In contrast to this, she will serve up one of Mendelssohn’s most important and beautiful piano works, Rondo Capriccioso, op.14. “The sparkling bravura piece was called an “Etude” in the first version of 1828. Two years later Mendelssohn wanted to present the work to the young piano virtuoso Delphine von Schauroth, whom he was courting at the time. He reworked it under the new title “Rondo capriccioso”, making it even more brilliant and adding a “moving introductory adagio” (as he described in a letter to Fanny). In this form, the work still presents pianists with a rewarding challenge. ”

Also featured on the program is Poulenc’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano. Originally composed for Benny Goodman, Poulenc was to give the premiere performance with Goodman at Carnegie Hall. Falling ill, Poulenc was unable to perform and Leonard Bernstein stepped in as the pianist. Kathy Henkel writes: “The wistful principal clarinet melody in the gentle Romanza which follows provides the essential thematic material from which the composer weaves his melancholy second movement. The finale finds Poulenc at his most rambunctious -- from percussive piano passages and impetuous clarinet commentary at the outset to the impertinent ending flourish.” Be enchanted by David and Maria as they display their full range of musical emotions and technical brilliance in this work. 

The concert concludes with Widor’s Introduction et Rondo. A piece filled with dazzling brilliance and crackling musical ideas, David and Maria demonstrate their command of the instruments, pulling out all the stops with a brilliant display of pyrotechnics and virtuosity. 

Witness this intimate musical conversation between husband and wife duo, David Rowden and Maria Raspopova, with the backdrop of Sydney Harbour in the iconic Utzon Room.

Click on the video below to hear David and Maria talking about working together and their musical program they have prepared for you.


Book now, don't miss this moment in time that brings together two talented musicians, performing the music they love. 


Samuel Cottell

Samuel Cottell is a multi-verstalie musician (pianist, arranger and composer), writer, music journalist (Leader Writer -Cut Common Mag, Fine Music Magazine, Music and Literature, Jazz Australia and Australian, and biographer. Samuel is also an music educator and currently tutors music theory and analysis in the Arts Music Unit, Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Samuel is currently undertaking his PhD (Musicology) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where he is researching the life and music of Tommy Tycho. Samuel has also been published in the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and has interviewed world-acclaimed musicians Renee Flemming, Steven Isserlis, Maxim Vengerov, Stuart Skelton and local musicians Daniel Rojas,  Simon Tedeschi and Katie Noonan. As well as these activities Samuel is in demand as a program note writer (Nexas Saxophone Quartet) and gives pre-concert talks for The Grevillea Ensemble and appeared on Radio National's "RareCollections" talking about Tommy Tycho's recording career and contribution to music.