Youngmi Has By
the Blue Shore give vibrant accounts of these works and tackle
head-on the virtuosic and creative demands of Chianan Yens
cleverly worked Clone. John
Gilberts freely designed Excursions and Diversions and William Toutants four brief Anagrams and Aphorisms.
Their versatility and instrumental command are nothing short of
brilliant throughout. Canonici confirms his position as one of todays foremost solo bassists
in Ronald Mazureks Maiastra (with tape) and Riccardo
Santobonis Kaddil, while Heaton gives an intelligent
reading of Ji Youngs three-movement Garak, a solo work
inspired by Korean traditional music."
Record Guide September/October 1999 - By Moore
"These nine works
make up a singularly indigestible collection of abstract styles
reminding me of why the avant-garde of the 70s was so difficult
to take seriously. When I see a description of a piece as based
on a specific application of the Fibonacci series, or
better, a multilayered sectional composition, incorporating
sampled elements of music and poetry of several Web interactive
sessions, later manipulated in a tightly controlled structure, with
overlapping studio additions, I tend to become deeply suspicious,
particularly when I note that most of the composers are students
of the same teacher. There used to be objections to contemporary
music stemming from the academic world that had lost touch with
its audiences. This disc shows that academicism is not dead, though
it is certainly moribund.
I enjoyed William Toutants
piece, which is relatively straightforward and eschews the shrill
screams that characterize Chianan Yen and Ji Young Jung, the grunts
and taped annoyances that mark Ronald Mazurek, the shapeless, ugly
noises and utterly dry recording of Riccardo Santobonis solo
bass piece. The dry sound plagues Youngmi Has short number
as well. On the other hand, most of the pieces are recorded in a
particularly shrieky acoustic that has the high notes rinsing and
wringing the ears. The taped nature sounds in Carlos Delgados
piece are recorded in considerably more lively an ambience than
the live instruments and sound more like music to boot. The same
goes for Dinu Ghezzos piece, where synthesizer and taped sounds
do most of the enjoyable things, the live instruments grunting and
groaning the while. On the other hand, if the good old-fashioned
avant-garde still turns you on, here it is in all its glory!"
Century Music - by Mark Alburger
Just how many pieces
are there for clarinet and contrabass? Certainly a few, if we can
judge from the recent Capstone release, Cassandra, with clarinetist
Roger Heaton and contrabassist Corrado Canonici (nice alliteration!)
It starts energetically
with Chianan Yen's Clone, with a nice vibrant sound coming
from both players. The content has something to do with the Fibonacci
series and music-as-DNA-codes, the latter recently discussed in
the New York Times. But the music doesn't sound scientific; it sounds
Youngmi Ha, on the other
hand, has a stiller, neoclassic take By the Blue Shore, where
slow and fast passages vary like the weather on an Eastern afternoon.
Ji Young Jung strips these notions down to basics in a solo clarinet Garak, that shares, with Blue Shore, a heightened interest
In Excursions and
Diversions, John Gilbert intends the players to "more or
less satirize their own virtuosity." A refreshing notion. The
beginning has a bit of ridiculous call-and-response à la
one of Crumb's Madrigals. The Stravinsky jokiness of "big
and little voices" (the clarinet is big in sound, the bass
less so) works. There's a Crumbian bravura (ha! hee! huh!) as well
to Ronald Mazurek's Maiastra (Magic Bird), but this time
in the Davidovsky Synchronisms tradition of an inventive
work for bass and electronic tape. Lots of downward glissandi and
vibrato. This is followed by the brief, intriguing Anagrams and
Aphorisms of William Toutant, where delicate sounds meet in
Canonici proves himself
in the same league as Bertram Turetzky in Riccardo Santoboni's virtuoso,
tutta forze Kaddil. This is followed by the wonderfully weird
Night Scenes of Carlos Delgado for clarinets, contrabass, and electronics.
Seagulls and sustains, anyone?
The signature piece
comes last, Dino Ghezzo's Eyes of Cassandra for clarinets,
contrabass, synthesizer, and tape. Ghezzo pulls out all the stops
with funny and threatening sounds galore. The cover shot is of the
Greek messenger of doom in full scream, and that's it. Whee! Whew!
From this series of
confident performances we turn to the very confident composer Andrea
Cavallari and his Self-Portrait, also on Capstone. The American-born
Cavallari has lived mostly in Europe, and he manifests a European-oriented
modernism that apologies for nothing. The performances from his
San Felice Contempoensemble are all magnificent (flutist Michele
Marasco, pianists Ju-Ping Song and Michele Innocenti, violinist
Adelino Hasani, bassist Canonici, sopranos Gerlinde Samann and Charlotte
Zeiher, alto Caterina Calvi). We can tick off the influences of
Crumb and Varèse (Fantasia per Flauto), Stockhausen
(the solo-piano Selfportrait), and Berio (a Magnificat for two sopranos and altos), but it all comes out rather fresh.
Canonici sounds as good here in Achrome as he did on the
preceding album a committed performance of a demanding work.
Ritratti is a
virtuosic, energetic scuttering and bubbling for flute and piano; Passages thrashes and emotes out for solo violin. Red utilizes Schoenberg's notion of non-repeating orchestrations
in each of its eight brief movements Pierrot ensemble (augmented
by percussion, with viola exclusively) to boot. "Red is...
Red, Red, Red" has a good beat and you can dance to it (well,
not really, but it is strikingly rhythmic). "Anguish"
is a perpetual motion overlain with sustains the title is
perfect. "Red is a Song" is a gorgeous vocalise that recalls
the vocal/flute duet in Pierre Boulez's Le Marteau sans Maitre.
A third Capstone album,
pianist Richard Crosby's American Portrait is virtuosity
in a more traditional vein. His Americans are traditional ones,
mostly from a broad mid 20th century (teens to the 80's), beginning
with the Roman Sketches (1917) of Charles Tomlinson Griffes.
These impressionist-romantic pieces ("The White Peacock,"
"Nightfall," "The Fountain of the Acquo Paola,"
and "Clouds") are certainly more Debussyan than Respighian,
but the arpeggios and arching phrases work in any language.
A scherzo is the order
of the day, beginning Three Pieces (1932) by Amy Beach (a.k.a.
Mrs. H.H.A....), and that scherzo is "A Peterborough Chipmunk"
which scampers altogether programatically. The following "Young
Birches" tremolo in the breeze, with the help of a lovely melody.
And "The Hummingbird"? Yes, it buzzes around....
In these contexts, the
Lee Hoiby Narrative (1983) by far the latest work
on the album, by a space of more than 40 years is not a stand
out, but a blend in, fitting nicely with the overall mood of the
album in its tranquility and turbulence.
William Grant Still,
always the surprising master, turns in Seven Traceries (1940).
Among the standouts are "Muted Laughter," a polytonal
chuckling that relates to Heitor Villa-Lobos, and the solemn intonings
that seem to anticipate Messiaen "Out of the Silence."
"Wailing Dawn" contains tragic wiffs of birdsong. "A
Bit of Wit" seriously brightens the day.
You can't keep a good
melody down, and David Guion does his bit to keep the folk tune
"The Arkansas Traveler" moving. Unlike Percy Grainger,
who used to program Guion's version regularly, I've hung around
with too many children over the years not to hear this as "I'm
Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee." Memorable, with a sting.
Louis Moreau Gotschalk's
appealingly rhythmic Banjo (ca. 1855, but not sounding out
of place in this 20th-century collection) and the wonderful Prelude
No. 1 by George Gershwin round out the festivities.