American Record Guide - March/April, 2000
Esther Lamneck is a fine clarinet player. The pieces on Diverse Settings, and a diverse lot they are, show off her best performing attributes - dynamic and expressive range, good sense of phrase and structure. I'm not sure about her sound, which often comes close to the saxophone, but that may be the recording or my playback system. Compositional high points are Ruth Schonthal's Bells of Sarajevo, a moving ode to the city with long, plaintive lines, and Marc Antonio Consoli's duo Sciuri Novi III, with both parts played here by Lamneck. Pianist Rosemary Caviglia proves an able accompanist, especially in the Schonthal.
- May/June 1999 - by Robert Kirzinger
is an extraordinary clarinetist, with exacting control and warm,
wonderful tone, from chalumeau to the highest register. She
negotiates large skips, microtones, and multi-phonics with the same
casual ease, so that none of the difficulties (and there are many)
of this music ever seem to affect the expressive intent of her playing.
The recorded sound captures all of this well, with the exception
of a too-distant piano part in the Kraft work.
Ruth Schonthal's Bells of Sarajevo, for clarinet and piano,
is meant to evoke the polarity of that city's beauty and of its
tragic history in this century. The music is evocative in two ways:
The gestures of Balkan folk song, including its microtones and modes,
make up much of the melodic material of the first part, which unfolds
in recitative sections. These are interrupted by violent chordal
outbursts in the piano, colored by in-strings preparation, which
refer to the Sarajevo that was recently a war zone. A Yugoslav lullaby
provides the material for most of the second half of the piece.
The juxtaposition of these simple, contrasting elements could all
too easily cross into the realm of the hyperemotional, but Schonthal
avoids this trap. The piece is powerfully expressive.
Ron Mazurek's Satori opens with a metrically free exchange
between tape and clarinet, both with chromatic lines of quick staccato
notes. There's a "percussion section" within the tape
that has a nice Chinese gong sound, but the melodic portion of the
tape is an unfortunate, goofy, clarinetlike sound. A clarinet cadenza,
improvised, joins the first half of the piece with the second, which
uses more sustained notes in both parts but again with no real interplay.
The tape part in this section is innocuous both in its sound and
Sound Etchings by Dinu Ghezzo is for clarinet and piano reverberations-the
clarinetist plays into a piano with the sustain pedal secured in
the down position. The six-movement piece (allotted one track on
the disc) explores a wide melodic range and a number of extended
techniques, including multiphonics, microtones, and singing through
the instrument. The language is atonal and covers a variety of moods
to great effect.
Lamneck plays a duet with her taped self in Eun-Bae Kim's lovely Sounds of Pusan for clarinet, recorded clarinet, and tape.
Both clarinet parts are melodically based, largely modal, microtonally
inflected lines in imitation or close harmony with some flutter-tongue
coloration. The subtle tape part uses sustained bass notes for a
projection of depth.
Marc Antonio Consoli's Sciuri Novi III was written to be
played by either two live clarinets or a taped second clarinet with
live first clarinet. This version has the second part on tape. Far
busier than the similar setup in Sounds of Pusan, both parts
contain fast chromatic runs and atonal melody (with a jazzlike feel
in places), sometimes imitating one another or in counterpoint.
The interlocking lines of the two parts result in gorgeous textures
and interesting crossing patterns.
Barbara Jazwinski's Visions (1990) for clarinet solo avoids
the extensions of timbre and scale found in much of the newest clarinet
literature (including that on this disc) while still sounding very
modern. Long arpeggios and melodic lines traverse the instrument's
entire range, hinting at motivic relationships that are never explicitly
stated. This piece shows off Lamneck's "traditional" playing
in its full glory.
No Time Like This Time by Leo Kraft (born 1922) is a good-natured
ragtime, full of remembrances of Paul Whiteman or Gershwin but also
of Stravinsky. A bluesy central section bisects the more upbeat
material. Although enjoyable, the piece seems out of place in this
otherwise very modern and serious context.
The only piece I really found trying was Mazurek's, with its poor
tape part and the lackluster interaction between tape and soloist.
The Kraft sticks out, but it's cute and could be heard as a kind
of encore sorbet. Hurray for Esther Lamneck, whose talent and skill
were midwife to all but the Jazwinski piece (she nonetheless plays
the piece like she owns it). This is a well-done mix of new Robert
Kirzinger clarinet repertoire."
(French Experimental Jazz Magazine) - by Francesco Martinelli
"Why this record
in Improjazz? By the looks of it, it's not improvised, nor jazz.
But we are against genre boundaries, plus things are (fortunately)
more complicated than they seem. Esther Lamneck is a master clarinetist,
who could have carved a nice easy career performing Mozart and Bartok
(and she did for a while with great success). But she's a musician
above all, and the new exciting worlds of sound opened by John Cage,
by free jazz, and by European improvisers changed her choices, and
now she devotes herself to teaching and promoting new music (extended
techniques, electronic interaction between instruments and real
time computer music, music/dance improvisation). A number of composers
paid homage to her abilities and her creative powers, here displayed
in Diverse Settings, as the CD title explains. Improvisation is
present throughout, in conditioned or free environment, and the
backgrounds range from folksongs (The Bells of Sarajevo, by Ruth
Schonthal) to electronics (Satori, by Ron Mazurek) passin through
a prerecorded clarinet score (Sounds of Pusan, by Eun-Bae Kim and
Sciuri Novi III by Marc Antonio Consoli) and closing with a glorious
solo Ê Visions by Barbara Jazwinski). Dinu Ghezzo's piece Sound
Etchings creates a lovely, delicate sound environment having the
clarinet play around an open piano, reminiscences of Cowell (and
Steve Lacy does that too on occasion); jazz rhythms are very much
the basis of No Time Like This Time, by Leo Kraft, where Lamneck
hints at her jazz club experiences - she can play a mean clarinet,
improvising over the changes with the best of them. Think of lively,
vibrant new music, of beautiful clarinet sound with a wide timbral
palette and microtonal effects, as Lamneck was influenced by Slavic
and Hungarian folk music and she is among the very few performer
to use a tarogato, the hungarian wind instrument that's something
between a clarinet and a soprano sax, with a non-tempered intonation.
(Brotzmann does, but with a completely different sensibility). Varied
and enjoyable, this CD will open new perspectives for the curious