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Clarinet Chamber Music by Richard Rodney Bennett: A Birthday Tribute

Clarinet Chamber Music by Richard Rodney Bennett: A Birthday Tribute-Clarinet
ID: CC0064 (EAN: 5023581006426)  | 1 CD | DDD
Released in: 2011
Clarinet Classics
BENNETT, Richard Rodney
BELL, Michael (piano) | SOAMES -SAMEK, Victoria (clarinet / bass clarinet)
East Winds | Inspirity String Quartet
Other info:

Clarinet Classics is proud and delighted to honour one of the world’s most brilliant and versatile composers and musician. To celebrate his 75th birthday, Clarinet Classics is releasing a CD which features many of Richard Rodney Bennett’s works for clarinet.
This CD, a rich and diverse collection of works, will be of great interest to listeners who wish to hear some of Richard Rodney Bennett’s more serious music.
The founder and artistic director of Clarinet Classics, Victoria Soames Samek, whose many recordings are celebrated for their masterly and musical interpretation, is joined on this fascinating and colourful disc by duo partner and pianist Michael Bell. The Inspirity String Quartet and East Winds also perform.
Well known for his film music and interest in jazz, Richard Rodney Bennett's scores include Far from the Madding Crowd and Four Weddings and Funeral.
World Premiere recording for this CD of the Bass Clarinet Sonata, newly transcribed from his Sonata for bassoon and piano by permission of the composer.
His rarely heard Clarinet Quintet - a master work of the 20th century for this combination of clarinet and strings.
A personal note from the composer.
The beautiful and melancholic Ballad in memory of Shirley Horn
His dynamic and exciting Duo, performed on this CD with electric precision by Samek and Bell.
BENNETT, Richard Rodney (b. 1936) 
1. Duo Concertante10:30 
Sonatina for solo clarinet 
2. I. Con fuoco1:59 
3. II. Night Thoughts3:20 
4. III. Scherzando2:36 
5. Troubadour Music4:39 
6. Scena III.10:14 
Clarinet Quintet 
7. I. Con moto4:50 
8. II. Presto2:59 
9. III. Romanza - adagio5:37 
10. IV. Vivo e ritmico3:54 
Sonata for bass clarinet and piano 
11. I. Moderato5:50 
12. II. Allegretto con grazia4:53 
13. III. Molto allegro5:37 
Travel Notes for wind quartet 
14. I. In an air-balloon1:35 
15. II. In a helicopter1:14 
16. III. In a bath-chair1:33 
17. IV. Car Chase1:18 
18. Ballad in memory of Shirley Horn7:11 


"The arresting opening of Richard Rodney Bennett's Duo Concertante, composed in 1985 as a companion piece to Weber's Grand Duo, makes for the strongest possible start to this absorbing recital of Bennett's music featuring the clarinet, issued to celebrate the composer's seventy-fifth birthday. The commitment and quality of the playing is at once apparent: Victoria Soames Sameck and Michael Bell are a formidable duo, capturing the dramatic substance as well as the nuance and detail of this rugged and exciting ten-minute work. This impressive partnership is heard to similarly good effect in the Sonata for bass clarinet and piano ­ a work that began life as Bennett's Bassoon Sonata, played here in a version made by Richard Ralph. The Sonatina for solo clarinet is in three short movements and it's a characteristically inventive and imaginatively written work, with two ebullient outer movements framing the slow, central "Night Thoughts". Soames Samek catches the rhythmic playfulness of the closing "Scherzando" movement particularly well.
Troubadour Music was written in 2006 for clarinet and piano. It's an immediately approachable piece, but as with much of Bennett's "easier" music, the skill and freshness of his invention makes for something original and delightful. Again, Soames Samek and Bell are superb advocates for this music ­ this is a hugely enjoyable performance ­ ideally alert and responsive. Scena III is very different: a major work for solo clarinet composed in 1977 as a commission from the Park Lane Group. The musical argument is dominated by a theme that suggests birdsong ­ unsurprising given the superscription at the top of the score from e. e. cummings ­ "Then shall I turn my face, and hear one bird sing terribly afar in the lost lands."
The opening of the Clarinet Quintet of 1992 is very lovely, the sense of lilting pastorale subtly underpinned by more complex rhythmical ideas. The result somehow succeeds in being both gentle and muscular, leading to a radiant, reflective coda. The ensuing Presto is a jagged contrast, with hints of the spiky march-like energy of early Britten, and a central section that suggests Hindemith at his most lyrical; but this is very much Bennett's own music, as is the slow movement that emerges from a songlike theme (in fact a 12-tone row), enveloped in string writing that suggest impressionistic colours and textures. The energetic finale begins with a rhythmic motif that is quite jazzy in feel: like everything else in this performance, it's very well caught by Soames Samek and the Inspirity Quartet.
Travel Notes 2 for wind quartet was written in 1976 and it's a charming kind of divertissement ­ music that evokes an air balloon, a helicopter, a bath-chair and a car chase. It's played with all the requisite wit and accuracy by Soames Samek and East Winds. Finally, the Ballad in Memory of Shirley Horn for clarinet and piano, which was composed in memory of the American jazz singer and pianist, who died in October 2005. The result is a moving and tender lament, with blues inflections and a long lyrical line that is beautifully sustained in this performance by Soames Samek and Bell.
The disc comes with useful notes and is captured in good, clear sound. I recommend it very warmly to anyone with an interest in Bennett, a composer whose sheer versatility and skill can sometimes overshadow the wonderfully individual sound of his music."
Nigel Simeone (International Record Review)


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