Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Clarinet Hive" Offers a Set of Interesting Works for the Clarinet Family

The world of contemporary classical music is a very diverse one, as we've discussed. Right now a wide spectrum of styles exist side-by-side, none taking primacy as the "music of our era." That's probably a good thing for the listener.

Such a state of affairs is reflected in a new release, Clarinet Hive (Naxos 8.572264). On it are six shortish to longish works for various-sized clarinet family ensembles. The shorter works are framed by the two longest of the bunch. Thus Astor Piazzolla's melodically vivid "Histoire du Tango" begins the recital; Evan Ziporyn's more modernistic "Clarinet Hive" caps it off. In between there are worthwhile shorter works by John Harbison, Vincent Persichetti, Thomas E. Barker and Gunther Schuller. These works contrast nicely. The performances are excellent. Much of it has a kind of whimsical feel to it.

Throughout you get the clarinet ensemble sonority and some finely crafted music. Think of it as a refreshing change of pace from the typical fare. It most certainly is good listening.

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