, June 2011
This disc contains a variety of contemporary works for solo clarinet. Eduard Brunner is currently based in Germany, but was born in Switzerland, and has built his career around commissioning and performing new works for his instrument.
Jörg Widmann’s Fantasie is a fascinating work with pulsating rhythms and noticeable jazz influences. The composer is himself a clarinettist, and this work displays a range of extended techniques which are incorporated into the musical language with a very natural flow. EDI by Toshio Hosokawa is dedicated to Brunner, and fuses Japanese and western styles of composition in an atmospheric and expressive piece. Berio’s Lied is a short and surprisingly lyrical work, performed with a sense of contemplative gentleness. In a similarly thoughtful vein is the opening of Reimann’s Solo, a slow-paced piece with short interjections which develops into a striking monologue. Brunner’s playing is smooth and expressive, and conveys an excellent understanding of the music.
Arthur Lourié’s The Mime is full of melodic interest and takes on a melancholy mood at times. The piece is dedicated to Charlie Chaplin, and short bursts of playful energy break through the lyrical low register line. Edison Denisov’s two-movement Clarinet Sonata uses the full range of the instrument, and takes the form of many French instrumental works, with a slow opening movement and a fast second. The Allegro giusto is played here with a sense of personality and strong rhythmic definition.
Alexander Goehr’s Monteverdi paraphrase is the second longest work on the disc. It was composed for Alan Hacker in 1969. Goehr makes direct quotes of Monteverdi, and develops the melodic lines into his own musical language. There is an enjoyable sense of unity here, and Goehr makes impressive use of the solo instrument, with sections of dialogue between voices and expressive, flowing melodic lines. Henri Pousseur’s Madrigal 1 makes use of vocal writing styles, and combines smooth melodies with agility and dexterity. Pousseur’s modernist language is well communicated and the piece goes a long way towards demonstrating the expressive range of the clarinet.
Mosaik by Hans Ulrich Lehmann brings together a series of short musical motifs to form a gradually evolving melodic line. Pleasing changes of texture are created through the use of trills, tremolos and flutter-tonguing, and the music possesses a delicacy within its framework. Fabio Nieder’s Terracotta is a short work of under two minute’s duration. This is a piece which creates a beautiful atmosphere, and has much to offer. The final piece on the disc is Jolivet’s Ascèses, a group of five short pieces which explore different aspects of solo instrumental writing. The piece reflects Jolivet’s philosophical and aesthetic ideas, and each movement has a distinctive character. I particularly enjoyed the rhythmic third movement and the languid nature of some of the slower sections.
Overall this is an excellent disc with an enjoyable range of repertoire and fine playing throughout.