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Two Clarinets and Piano: Original Music from Finland, Malta, Israel and points in between
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847), arranged Pamela WESTON (b.1921)
Herbstlied [2:02] *
Aus dem Lob gesang [3:34] *
Ernesto CAVALLINI (1807-1874)
La Bacana [9:53] **
Lotti AMIT-KALEV (b.1934)
Divertimento (1986) [5:40] *
Bernhard CRUSELL (1775-1838)
Adagio and Rondo (1822?) [5:34] **
Sarah FEIGIN (b.1928)
Fantasia (1996/2002) [4:09] *
Charles CAMILLERI (b.1931)
Divertimento No.1, Homage a Manuel de Falla (1957) [7:23] **
Jaroslav MAŠTALÍŘ (1906-1988)
Duo Concertante, Op.34 (1934) [12:19] *
Franz SCHWEINSBERG (1835-1913)
Fantasie Brilliante et Originale [11:21] **
Eva Wasserman-Margolis (clarinet; * first clarinet), Luigi Magistrelli (clarinet; ** first clarinet), Claudia Bracco (piano)
rec. S. Stefano Ticino, Italy, August 2003. DDD
LEONARDA LE 354 [62:03]


There can’t, I suspect, be many CDs devoted entirely to music for two clarinets and piano – I certainly can’t think of any. More strikingly, only the first two items – songs by Mendelssohn – are arrangements. There is, that is to say, a worthwhile repertoire for this combination of instruments. Here we are introduced to some of it; indeed four of the works - those by Cavallini, Amit-Kalev, Maštalíř and Schweinsberg – are receiving their first recording.

Born in the U.S.A., Eva Wasserman-Margolis is now based in Israel. Luigi Magistrelli is Professor of Clarinet at the Milan Conservatory and has recorded quite extensively. Claudia Bracco studied in Milan and now teaches at Como. All three performers are persuasive advocates for the music and maintain one’s interest throughout their recital, despite the inevitable limitations of instrumental texture.

Ernesto Cavallini was a famous virtuoso; it was, I believe, the English clarinettist Henry Lazarus who dubbed Cavallini “the Paganini of the clarinet”. It was for Cavallini – whose playing he admired – that Verdi wrote the clarinet solo in the prelude to Act III of La Forza del Destino. ‘La Bacana’ is made up of an andante and a longer allegro; it is an attractive piece which encompasses a fair emotional range, from a light-hearted opening to a self-confident finale, via some more sombre passages. Bernhard Crusell was a significant clarinettist of an earlier generation. His Adagio and Rondeau were originally written as unaccompanied duets for clarinet, the piano part being added later. The result is pleasant but not, it has to be said, the most memorable music on the CD. The Dutchman Franz Schweinsberg – who seems not to have an entry in Grove - composed some 400 works, many for brass ensemble. His ‘Fantasie Brillante et Originale’ is perhaps neither as brilliant nor as original as its title promises, but is pleasant music, very much of its period, in which Claudia Bracco’s contributions (as well as those of the clarinettists) are worthy of note. Mendelssohn’s melodies are a delight in the arrangement by Pamela Weston, a name familiar to all clarinettists and to those with an interest in the history of the instrument.

Turning to the more modern pieces, Charles Camilleri - who represents Malta in the CD’s subtitle - can usually be relied upon for interesting and stylish work and he doesn’t let us down here. His long-standing interest in Spanish idioms is naturally reflected in a work written in homage to de Falla. Camilleri’s Divertimento is an elegant showpiece in three short movements, two witty allegros framing a rather beautiful andante. Lotti Amit-Kalev is a pianist, teacher and composer living and working in Israel, whose compositions include works for solo piano and a number of pieces of chamber music. Her Divertimento is an engaging piece, which blends the two clarinets very strikingly in music which, while it has a folk-like quality at times, is evidently the work of a sophisticated musical mind. Much the same might be said of the Fantasia by Sarah Feigin, a new name to me. Born in Latvia, Feigin moved to Israel in 1972. Her Fantasia was originally written for single clarinet and piano in 1996 and arranged for two clarinets and piano in 2002. In this present form it is a small gem – built around an appealingly lyrical melody and a robust quasi-folk dance. Maštalíř’s Duo Concertante is a pleasantly tuneful tonal work, unflamboyant and at its best in its more meditative passages.

The performances have the advantage of a clear yet full recorded sound; there are helpful biographical notes, though rather too little is said about the music actually recorded. While it would be absurd to pretend that it constitutes any kind of essential purchase, this is a CD that can be recommended both to those with a special interest in the clarinet and to those who like to explore new musical territory.

Glyn Pursglove


Leonarda Productions





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