Sunday, August 7, 2011

ClarinetFest: Day 3

I started off the day Friday with a dose of Berio, as Rocco Parisi performed the Sequenza IXc for bass clarinet on his morning recital.  Parisi collaborated with Berio to create the bass clarinet version and performed the world premiere, so it was certainly a special performance that had the audience cheering - even at 9:00 in the morning!
Rocco Parisi

Next, I attended a concert featuring works by Matthias Müller, played by an all-star ensemble including Robert Spring, Philippe Cuper, and Henri Bok. 
Matthias Müller and friends
Especially notable was the world premiere of L'histoire de la clarinette, which Müller said was inspired by his teacher Hans Stalder.  Stalder famously researched and recorded the first modern basset clarinet version of the Mozart concerto, but was also active in commissioning new works for clarinet. Müller's L'histoire was a stream-of-consciousness romp through clarinet history, with quotations from so many works it was impossible to catch them all.  I heard references to the Debussy Rhapsodie, Poulenc Sonata, Stravinsky Three Pieces, Messiaen's Quatuor, concertos of Nielsen, Mozart, and Molter, Berio Sequenza IX, Sutermeister Capriccio, and both Stravinsky and Piazzolla's "L'Histoire" pieces.  In the hands of someone less talented, this piece could have sounded trite or confused, but Müller's clever juxtaposition of elements and the incredible group of performers really made it work.

The day of bass clarinet in the Grand Salon continued with Eric Mandat performing a new work composed for himself and Edmund Welles, the bass clarinet quartet.  In five movements, Shadows from Flames was alternately beautiful and completely "metal".  It's a rocking work I definitely look forward to hearing again at some point.
Eric Mandat and Edmund Welles
I then headed over to the Plaza del Sol hall to hear Gerry Errante and D Gause performing as the Clarion Synthesis Duo.  It was great to hear William O. Smith's Duo for Clarinet and Tape, which is the first known piece written for clarinet and tape.  I was surprised to learn that no performer other than William O. Smith had previously performed it, according to Errante.  The concert also included new works by Craig Walsh and Larry Austin, the latter featuring incredible visuals by David Stout.
Clarion Synthesis

The Rico Bass Clarinet Blowout continued the bass clarinet madness in the Grand Salon.  Michael Norsworthy, Rocco Parisi, Richard Nunemaker, and Henri Bok each performed a solo bass clarinet piece, and Tim Bonenfant played a contrabass clarinet solo.  Judging by audience reaction, the biggest hit of the concert was the premiere of Arthur Gottschalk's The Kaleidoscopic Pocket Hockets Boogaloo for bass clarinet ensemble, which had lots of Herbie Hancock-inspired funk along with fun theatrical gestures by the performers.
Bass Clarinet Blow-Out

The sound of a bass clarinet quartet or choir is rarely heard and completely unique, so it was a real treat to hear so much bass clarinet in one day!  Hopefully these new works will be performed again in the future. 

I wasn't able to attend the evening concert on Friday, but I heard quite a bit of buzz about Robert Spring's performance of Black Dog as well as the works by Roger Zare and Frank Ticheli for clarinet and wind ensemble.  It sounded like quite a few people were experiencing "clarinet overload" and did not stay for the Eddie Daniels/Stéphane Chausse jazz concert, but those who did had a great time.  Were you there?  If so, please comment below with your thoughts!

1 comment:

Joseph Howell said...

I think a lot of people justifiably went to other events (bass clarinet blowout and reed maintenance workshop) during my performance, which was shared with fellow improvising clarinetist Brian Walsh. We were the "other" jazz concert at ClarinetFest 2011...
Feel free to watch the concert now at
...I think the true highlights are the videos "Part 2" and "Part 8" from this performance (an avant garde hip hop jazz clarinet selection and a blues number), which were numbers Walsh and I played together on. Let me know what you think. Those who did attend seemed to be pleased. Thanks!