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A clarinetist, a pianist and an oboe player walk into SMC ... Two years later, they've got an album

Wes Warnhoff, Natalia Bolshakova and Dan Willett released their first album, 5 Trios for Oboe, Clarinet and Piano as the Talea Trio.
Wes Warnhoff
Wes Warnhoff, Natalia Bolshakova and Dan Willett released their first album, 5 Trios for Oboe, Clarinet and Piano as the Talea Trio.

Wesley Warnhoff is the clarinet professor at the University of Missouri. He, along with oboe professor Dan Willett and collaborative pianist Natalia Bolshakova, recorded their first album as the Talea Trio in 2021. The album was released in 2023.

Clarinetist and Classical 90.5 reporter Kiana Fernandes sat down with Warnhoff, her private lessons instructor, to discuss the formation of the Talea Trio and what it was like recording his first album with his colleagues and friends.

Kiana Fernandes: I guess to start, when did you guys form the trio?

Wes Warnhoff: So, I think we conceptualized the trio in like 2018 and we started talking about just simply putting on a recital. Dan was someone I had played with throughout my time here at Mizzou, and Natalia was the person that I always gave my recitals with. And I knew that I just clicked with both of them really well, musically and personally. Like, we just really like each other. And so, we just came up with this idea that we’d put on a trio concert.

Kiana Fernandes: And then when did you guys decide you wanted to record together? Because live performance is very different than recorded?

Wes Warnhoff: Yeah, exactly. And I think if you asked all of us, we would all say we were live performers. But we put on this recital, and we kind of got done with the concert and walked offstage and we were just kind of looking at the program we had done. And the pieces all were kind of – were special. Dan had done a brand new arrangement of a Bach cantata. We had done an adaptation of a clarinet, voice, piano trio, it’s very famous. And a couple of underrepresented pieces that we’d never really heard before and you certainly couldn’t find actual recordings. And so, at that point, we kind of realized that it could fill a need in the classical, you know, repertoire.

Kiana Fernandes: What was the rehearsal process like? And what’s it like working with those two of your colleagues?

Wes Warnhoff: Yeah, with those two, the rehearsal process is, like, just a joy. When we get together, you're just running through the music, and it's more making decisions on how you want to phrase things and how you want to blend and balance and listening. And so, the rehearsal process was really easy.

Kiana Fernandes: What did you do for the recording process?

Wes Warnhoff: Yeah, we recorded in, I think it was three— two and a half days. So, we would pick a piece. And we almost always started with a full run through and then we would record different sections, and we would kind of like talk about what we thought we needed to do. And I think we also would kind of end with a run through as well. And what's funny, we found that almost always, the stuff that we liked the most was from the run through.

Kiana Fernandes: Okay, on to the editing process. You guys did that yourselves?

Wes Warnhoff: Right. So, Dan – Professor Willett – has recorded many CDs, so I actually leaned a lot on him and his process. After we recorded all these takes, we went through and we tracked them onto the score. And so, we knew take one went from here to here, take two is the whole thing, take three went from here to here. And so, we got this visual representation of how many takes we had at each spot. And then the arduous process is going through individually and then as a group, and listening to every single take and finding out which one was the best. So, after we went through and we got what we thought was the best continuous take it went to Rob Boullion who was recording us and then he edited it and put it together and he mastered it and sent it off to the record company.

Kiana Fernandes: Yeah. You technically started the process in 2019 with choosing the rep that would go onto the 2021 recording and then you didn't get it for another two years. So, what was it like to finally have the finished product?

Wes Warnhoff: Yeah, it was definitely satisfying. I think in this age, though, what's funny is, you know, I got the CD and I didn’t have anywhere to play it. So, when it got launched on Spotify, that was pretty cool. I was able to, you know, send it out and start seeing that people were listening to it and sharing it with people and especially being my first official CD. It was very special, yeah, very special.

5 Trios for Oboe, Clarinet and Piano can be accessed on Spotify and YouTube.

Kiana Fernandes is a senior at the Missouri School of Journalism - studying cross-platform editing and producing.
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