Music hath charms.......

I had originally wanted to conclude my performance pages with some chamber music from the Classic, Romantic, and Modern eras. But such works are usually very large, and there simply isn't the space available to me with my present Internet account. So instead I have opted to present a clarinet recital (my first instrument of study); all VBR MP3s as are those earlier on the site. For this I am joined by Elinor Lawson, piano, a former colleague at the University of Lethbridge. As with all of the other music on my site, these are "live" performances and thus suffer from the same audience noise that you will have heard on previous pages. And as with previous examples, the original source recordings were audio cassettes with their resultant poor sound quality, although I have managed to improved fidelity a bit by eliminating a degree of tape hiss (those pesky rattlesnakes).

The first pieces chosen are short, lyrical works representing the early and middle Romantic period, and the 20th Century, followed by a portion of a completely new Sonata written for me which I believe deserves exposure. Although the works themselves are lesser know pieces, I believe they offer quality examples of the literature for the instrument.

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Heinrich Joseph Baermann (1784-1847) was a clarinet virtuoso of the Romantic era who is generally considered as being not only an outstanding performer of his time, but highly influential in the creation of several composers' compositions. Important concerti and other works were written specifically for him by leading composers of the day, among them Weber, Meyerbeer, and Mendelssohn. Heinrich also wrote a number of works for clarinet, among them an Adagio for Clarinet and Strings which was, for many years, attributed to Wagner. The piece performed here is not that piece. His son, Carl, was also a clarinetist, but rather than pursuing as much of a performance career as his father had done, Carl became a teacher of the clarinet. He composed a number of pieces specifically for the clarinet, but his hallmark work was "Vollstandige Clarinett-Schule" which contains pieces still used for their technical merit. He is also responsible for technical modifications to the instrument itself which greatly influenced its development and use during the Romantic period.

Aaron Copland (November 14, 1900 – December 2, 1990) needs little introduction. He was an American composer of concert and film music, as well as an accomplished pianist. Instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition, he was widely known as “the dean of American composers.” Copland's music seems to have successfully balanced modernity and American folk styles. He was also very interested in jazz, its changing meter and polyrhythms as well as its expanded harmonic vocabulary. Certainly the jazz element is audible in this lovely piece. Originally written as a piece for violin and piano (1926), the clarinet version was made by the composer in 1976, and published under Copland's copyright in 1978.

Niels Wilhelm Gade (1817-1890): Gade is considered to be one of the most important figures in nineteenth-century Danish music. His early music reflected national ‘folk’ heritage, but Gade later refined his style under the influence of Mendelssohn in Leipzig. The four ‘fantasy pieces’ Op. 43, for clarinet and piano were composed in 1864 and bear a resemblance to the more famous Fantasiestücke (1849) by Robert Schumann for the same combination. He can be called the founder of the Romantic nationalist school in Danish music, but he always maintained his interest in Danish poetry and folk music.

Moment Musical
Kurt Schwertsik (born in Vienna, June 25, 1935) is an Austrian contemporary composer. He is famous for creating the “Third Viennese School” and spreading contemporary classical music. I can relate a funny story about this piece in as much as (with considerable embarrassment), I couldn't remember the composer's name, contacted former colleagues, and finally conducted intense internet searches to recapture it. (Ah the failings of old age.) In any case, I think he deserves a link to his web site. Kurt Schwertsik's music draws inspiration from Satie and the Dada movement. This musical moment is indeed less than a minute! It is charged with dynamism and dissonance, though it rejects any strict adherence to serialism.

This piece is by Keith Ramon Cole (1938-), an Englishman. (And all along I thought he was an American!) Like the Copland work, this piece owes much to a jazz idiom, here even presenting direct quotations which you will surely recognize. The piece has been said to depict the cold pavements and the sleazy nightlife of a modern city.

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano Adagio/Allegro
This movement is from the world premiere of a piece written especially for me by colleague, Dean G. Blair. It is a four movement work which explores scalar sets and the Orientalism which is found in many of the works by this highly prolific composer. I present here the first movement. Also now a Professor Emeritus, Dean lives on Vancouver Island, as do I, so we are still able to enjoy one another's company and an on-going exchange of ideas.