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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000002.txt from 2010/11

From: ashley grutta <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Copland and Aldridge Clarinet Concertos Review,
Date: Mon, 01 Nov 2010 14:25:26 -0400

I've listened to this recording- it's incredible. The Copland is like no
other recording I've heard... and the Aldridge Concerto is a great
complement to it. I love the Samba. High B!! Thanks for posting this Alex!

On Sun, Oct 24, 2010 at 11:11 PM, Alexander Knox <>w=

> Just wanted to share this with you in case you haven't heard this recordi=
> yet.
> Robert Livingston ALDRIDGE (b.1954)
> Clarinet Concerto (2004) [27:17]
> Samba (1993) [5:23]
> Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990)
> Clarinet Concerto (1948) [17:04]
> David Singer (clarinet)
> A Far Cry Orchestra (concertos); Shanghai Quartet (Samba)
> rec. Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA 5 October (Aldridge
> concerto), 10 November (Copland concerto) 2008; Immaculate Conception
> Church,
> Montclair, New Jersey, USA 17 December 2009 (Samba)
> NAXOS 8.559667 [49:44]
> Available on Amazon and iTunes
> Robert Aldridge=92s Clarinet Concerto is a charming new work which should
> appeal
> to just about any listener. It is the direct contemporary descendant of
> romantic
> concertos, tuneful, well-built in the old-fashioned way and quite pleasin=
> but
> still recognizably new. A listener from the nineteenth century would
> recognize
> the form of each movement and the basically tonal language, but not the
> ebullient, outdoorsy adventurousness of it all.
> Aldridge=92s achievement here is to take a huge palette of influences and
> produce
> a satisfying new product. In describing this music, one might start by
> naming
> Aaron Copland, recalling the adventurous musical tastes of Benny Goodman,
> and
> wondering if a bit of late Brahms can be heard here and then. Add to that
> hints
> of Gershwin, a generous dollop of jazz, and, right in the middle of the
> slow
> movement, a klezmer episode, and you have the recipe for what sounds like=
> mess
> - but in fact is an almost seamless new style of Aldridge=92s own.
> The concerto begins with an insistent sense of motion among strings and
> timpani;
> this gives way to the solo clarinet, which intones the mellow main theme.
> The
> tune sounds like a lonesome jazz ballad which has left home and struck out
> for
> new musical territory. As the orchestra picks up the theme, the clarinet
> loops
> and weaves around it to wonderful effect. The second subject is lyrical,
> providing the clarinetist opportunity to feel a little blue. In terms of
> formal
> structure and development, and in its mixture of virtuosic note-spinning
> and
> pure bluesy gorgeousness, this first movement has a great deal in common
> with
> that of the Ravel Piano Concerto in G.
> The slow movement, also the longest and best, is still and (as the compos=
> directs) =93serene=94 for the most part, but occasionally gets interrupte=
d by
> klezmer outbursts. I have no problem with klezmer outbursts, and quite
> enjoyed
> this one, but it did occur to me that this moment sounds an awful lot like
> the
> corresponding one in Mahler=92s First. It also struck me that the clarine=
t is
> such
> a great klezmer instrument, but for the most part Aldridge entrusts the
> main
> tune to the brass, especially at the end. Never mind: the rest of the slow
> movement is in the hands of the clarinet and muted strings, who together
> unfold
> a gorgeous late-night love song. The last few seconds are pricelessly
> beautiful.
> After this the finale explodes with excitement. Again the klezmer influen=
> is
> present, for a perpetuum mobile in which the clarinet triumphs against an
> all-out assault from the orchestra. At the fourth minute the double basses
> drop
> their bows and begin to pluck out a jazzy new beat, but as the concerto
> ends the
> music=92s energy is stirring up trouble once again. This concerto is
> consistently
> tonal, highly accessible, recognizably =93American=94 in its vibrancy and
> eclecticism, and above all very fun, and I am very happy to report that it
> gets
> better on each successive listen.
> Aaron Copland=92s Clarinet Concerto is the coupling. It is just seventeen
> minutes
> to Aldridge=92s less concise twenty-seven. Within seconds the clarinetist=
> singing the gentle main theme, and the first movement is so beautiful that
> it
> seems to end as suddenly as it began. A jazzy cadenza, with hints of tunes
> that
> might do Benny Goodman proud (it was written for him), leads seamlessly
> into the
> quick finale. Robert Aldridge makes a return appearance as composer of the
> encore, a Samba for clarinet and string quartet. This one=92s another
> delight,
> with vigorous strings and joe-cool clarinet a happy example of opposites
> attracting. At around 1:40 the violins introduce a beautiful dance tune
> which
> offers contrast, and a sneak preview of what the Brazilian version of West
> Side
> Story might sound like.
> David Singer, longtime clarinetist for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, is
> the
> excellent soloist. The Aldridge concerto was written for him, and his love
> for
> it shows at all times. He plays tenderly when needed, with the sort of
> beautiful
> simplicity that is anything but simple to bring off. I thought more than
> once
> how much I would like to hear his work in the clarinet solo from
> Appalachian
> Spring - then realized that, since I own the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra=92s
> recording of that work, I already have heard him play it!
> Singer also deserves praise for this performance of the Copland: listen
> especially to how he handles the transition from the opening nocturne to
> the
> jazzy climax of the cadenza, and into the finale. This work has been
> recorded
> before, many times, most obviously by Goodman himself, a recording which I
> am a
> bit ashamed not to own. One contemporary clarinet star to have tackled the
> work
> is Martin Fr=F6st, alongside the Malmo Symphony on BIS; they indulge in a
> first
> movement a full minute longer than this one. It is a philosophical
> difference:
> Fr=F6st is playing a nocturne, while Singer evokes the kind of =93western=
> Americana
> Copland one hears in Appalachian Spring. And Singer=92s cadenza wins hands
> down:
> jazzier, peppier, and with the best transition into the finale I=92ve hea=
> The Shanghai Quartet have really mastered the difficult Samba, and A Far
> Cry
> Orchestra excels in the two concertos. I had never heard of this group
> before,
> but the biography (which lists every musician on the album) explains that
> it is
> a self-conducted Boston-based ensemble of just thirteen string players. F=
> the
> concertos (Aldridge calls for woodwinds and a timpani, Copland for a pian=
> the
> A Far Cry musicians have invited a few friends along. In the Copland first
> movement, A Far Cry does not provide the sort of lyrical support one finds
> on
> full-orchestra recordings with glowing violin sections, but they are more
> incisive and clearer in the finale, so it is a matter of taste.
> The booklet notes, by Aldridge and Singer themselves with a note from
> producer
> Donald Palma, are helpful and descriptive, and if the composer and
> clarinetist
> are a little congratulatory to each other (Aldridge calls this =93the best
> recording of the [Copland] that I have ever heard=94 ), I cannot blame th=
> Indeed, I cannot help but agree. This disc is, as Singer writes, =93a lab=
> of
> love=94 and the product of years of collaboration. I feel glad composer a=
> players have shared their labor of love with us. The program, the
> compositions,
> the performances, and the sound are outstanding.
> Brian Reinhart
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-- =

Ashley Grutta
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